Sunday, September 28, 2014

Never-ending Projects and Making new Friends

Part of the problem with refitting an older boat is finding space to add new electronics in the 12 volt panel.  And while its possible to use the existing power that ran the old equipment, there comes a time when there are only so many slots to tap into.  Maybe there's a way to install a bus bar behind the panel, but we don't know enough about how much we can continue to power through what's already there.  On top of it, the way this boat is designed, there is 2 foot channel that measures 3"x 5" directly behind the navigation desk by which all wires must pass in order to get to the panel - and its a bitch to access.  But having ran so many wires through this area previously and the fact that the area is already taken up by the original wiring, there's not even enough room to run fish-tape through it any longer.  

My solution to this on-going issue was to install a new panel that has easy access, and at the same time allows much more room for expansion.  I have a Sirius weather receiver to power, a 12 volt ethernet switch, and another chartplotter, not to mention any future expansion that may include 12 volt televisions in the cabins.   So I ordered a new Panel-tronics that came with five breakers pre-installed.

The new 12 volt PanelTronics
But cutting holes and running wires through all the nooks and crannies of a sailboat is never an easy task.  And you've never really appreciated the usefulness of fish-tape until you've used it on a boat.  We've ran it through so many tight spots that would never be possible with any other method - we've almost worn out the two reels that came with the boat.  But to make things worse, the battery bank is located under the back section of the berth where I sleep.  Bedding, clothes, mattresses, and support racks had to be removed in order to access this area. The final product powers up well and will be a snap to run any present and future power needs.  Now I have an easy spot to power my new cockpit chartplotter that we've just finished mounting a couple of days ago - hopefully the location proves to be ideal and the Navpod stands up to the harsh environment.

We ran the wires as professionally as we could

My modified NavPod for the Raymarine E90W
We've also made new sailing friends - Chris and Joyce own a 38' Manta catamaran named Salt Run and stopped by the other day.  He and his wife have a house down here in the Keys and just moved their Manta down from Jacksonville to the marina next door to us.  They found me through my blog and recognized the boatyard where we work and live and was nice enough to come by and say hi.  They are some of the nicest people that I've ever met - in Florida or Texas - and even offered us a truck to use, a place to spend the night, and a lobster/mahi-mahi dinner - all of which were much more than generous.  But we did take them up on the dinner.  They have a nice place that backs up to a canal just a few miles down the highway, and needless to say, the conversation was great and it was some of the best seafood we've ever had.  They've also just produced their own sailing blog, and you can find it here If we meet other cruisers in the sailing community that are anywhere near as hospitable and kind as Chris and Joyce, this will be an awesome adventure.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Getting down to the Nitty-Gritty

The final moves have been made this week as Justin and I ready ourselves to go back to the boat to tie all the loose ends together as we target November for the big splash.  I've alerted my current place of employment that I will be emailing my resignation letter the first week in October (no need to submit sooner than I have to - I like back-up plans and security blankets.)  We've moved two cars into storage along with the RV.  Forwarded my mail to.....oh shit, I don't even care.  And the closer it gets to our flight, the more nervous I seem to be as these are not decisions for the faint of heart - quitting your job and downsizing your life to two suitcases isn't that easy.

Sure, it all sounds great when its next year, next month, or next week, but when its Wednesday, it becomes a little more real - this is final - we're moving onto our boat full-time - shit's gettin' real and it can be a little overwhelming at times.  But one of the hardest parts of this go-around is leaving Tami...... again - although her flight has at least been purchased for the end of next month, it means 5 weeks without her.  In addition, we've once again left our boat for 3 months and I worry about her.  Did she leak and take on any rain water?  Has somebody broken in and stolen anything?  And I won't feel better about it until I get back and make sure everything is in its place.  To top it off, it seems to be an endless forecast of rain - 80% chance for the 3 days following our arrival and I'm not sure if we'll be able to get anything done for the first couple of weeks. 

But its exciting too.  As I tell my co-workers about the plan, I realize that all of the planning that has gone into this, and all the changes my family as endured, has come down to this moment in our lives.  Over the years, when you have a plan in place that takes this much maneuvering in your life, you wonder if you'll ever get to  see it through to fruition - and now we're here - its surreal.   But am I overly excited?  I try not to be.  Its kind of like when I got the call to interview for my first (and present) nursing job.  Although it had taken over 10 months to get the first call for an interview - I had all but given up on the idea that I'd ever get the opportunity to utilize my degree - and I was ok with it.  But after the call, a huge sinking feeling came over me because I knew what I was in for - I had heard all of the horror stories.  Some nurses have reported crying on their way home for the first 6  months because the stress is so intense.  

But now after almost 3 years on the job, I can honestly say that it was the smartest thing I've done in my life aside from buying real estate. And I feel that it's the same way with owning and living on a sailboat - it can be the best decision we've ever made, but that doesn't mean it won't stress me out at times and make me want to quit everything.  Somebody once told me that a smart man has a natural fear of owning a sailboat much the same as a normal man has a fear of alligators - you just know the potential it has to make your life real shitty.