Friday, December 30, 2011

Merry Belated

Sorry it's been a while since I've updated.  Been hard at work waitressing for the holiday season. It's supposedly the most lucrative time of year, so of course, I had to get in on that action.  As I've been at work, Frank's been getting into the holiday spirit and decorating with Christmas lights.  Well, kind of...

Our refrigerator was the Grinch that stole Christmas only instead of stealing toys, it stole our butter, cheese, and anything else that happened to disappear into its dark cold recesses.  We would find food barely recognizable months after we bought it, simply because we would forget that it's there.  Out of sight, out of mind.  As a matter of fact, shortly after moving aboard, we found a 4 pack of butter and a hunk of cheese rotting away in the there.  They weren't even from the US, and the expiration dates were over 2 years past due.

Frank decided that he was sick and tired of groping in the dark, and so he installed Red LED Rope lights (Red so that it won't ruin our night vision when we go for a snack during watches) along the top edge of the fridge.  They are turned on and off with a rocker switch and we will soon install a small DC fan to better circulate the cold air.  The rest of the boat may be lacking holiday cheer, but our fridge certainly looks and feels like Rockefeller Center.  The hardest part was running the new wire for all of this, and the total cost was about $30.  The power consumption is minimal, but the satisfaction of knowing what you're getting when you're reaching in the back of the fridge is priceless.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Boat Bling

Moitessier has many different personalities, sometimes she's nurturing and motherly, taking care of us when we need her; at her best, she's strong and fearless; her worst, stubborn and finicky.  Occasionally, she's downright diva.  She has no problem letting us know what she wants and when she wants it.   Moitessier hasn't learned English (thankfully so, because Frank has definitely said some mean things about her lately),  but this does not prevent her from getting her point across.  She let us know, in no uncertain terms, that no dress up is complete without some fine, shiny jewelry to go along with her new Cetol outfit on deck.  She made her request heard by "developing" a leak in her shower fixture.  Mind you, we've never even used this shower (we use the one at the marina...too much condensation, see previous post).  So being the spoiling parents that we are, we bought her a new faucet (we didn't really have a choice), made of solid brass.  That's like the platinum of boat jewelry.

Before.  Notice the blue tape, that was
our way of delaying the inevitable
Pretty :) 
Luckily, we were able to find one the exact same size as the older one.  The fittings used to connect it to our water system appear to be custom machined as they were all in odd sizes.  The fixture itself is made for iron claw bathtubs, and it's really suiting to the overall decor of Moitessier.  Our older one appears to be of a similar make (not as pretty), but it did not include a spout.  We decided to leave the spout on as it would be a very good way to fill up a bucket of fresh water (if we ever need to do so).  The biggest pain to this (as no project is as straight forward as it should be) was getting the older fittings to seal up properly.  Plumbing is not something Frank enjoys or is very good at, but as usual, he's learning as he goes.  At the same time, we figured it would be prudent to replace the shower sump hose as well so off it went.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Unwanted guests

Notice the white streaks of MOLD

Boats live in a hostile environment, their job on the most simplistic level is to keep water out.  Water is cunning though, it always manages to find its way in in spite of our best defenses.  Whether through drips and leaks, trickles and droplets, or as we recently discovered... the air, water always finds its way in. As the temperature outside starts to fall, air's ability to hold moisture falls along with it.  This is what people are talking when they're referring to the dew point.  When living aboard, this becomes complex as the air inside of a boat is kept artificially warm for your comfort.  When that warm moisture laden air reaches the cooler sides of the hull, its temperature is forced down and the moisture is forced out, thus causing condensation.  Add to that, a restricted air flow in areas such as lockers, cabinets, anywhere where there is poor ventilation and you then have the preferred berth  for our newest crew member-Mold.  We were recently introduced when we begain digging out our winter clothes from our locker and discovered Mold and his friend Mildew hanging out in the back.  Frank had long forewarned of their coming, but I refused to believe that anyone could crash our party. Upon further investigation, it turns out they had the nerve to invite their whole extended family to stay in other parts of our boat as well.  It was time for action, we needed these freeloaders out before they forced US out.  So, out comes the computer and research on how to evict these unwanted guests.  We found a very good article that we thought we should share with anyone who finds themselves in the company of these free loading vagabonds.

Turns out the things they like least are Lysol (our strongest ally), Bleach water, and just good ol' Ventilation and Sunshine.  I emptied out all of the contents of each cabinet, locker, and pantry, wiped it down with bleach water and then sprayed thoroughly with Lysol.  With the clothes, I put them out on deck and let the Sun do its job.  Afterwards, I let the empty lockers air out before putting everything back in.  So far, it's been about a week and it doesn't seem to be coming back.  I've also been more weary of keeping things ventilated and opening the lockers up whenever I think of it.  As well we've invested in a dehumidifier which, to my surprise, has pulled at least 30 pints of water a day from the air inside the boat!  The dehumidifier was designed for the basements of 1000 sq ft homes, so you can compare that with the inside of a boat, and that's a lot of moisture.  It makes sense since we are living pretty much underwater, something we don't always think about.  The only down side to the dehumidifier is that it requires shore power, but for now we feel that it's a pretty good investment.  

Die, Mold, Die!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Heads Up-Part I

Frank recently made a smart trade with one of our live aboard neighbors at the marina.  For a while now, we've been complaining about our electric head and wanting to swap it out for a Lavac manual unit.  We were holding off on buying one because of finances, but as luck would have it, our neighbor was in the market for an electric head (he's got 2 heads, and he wanted one of them to be electric).  It turns out that he had a Lavac unit, the exact one that Frank was considering so it only made sense to make the trade.

Before installing the new toilet, we decided that we needed to replace all of the old, crumbling head hoses.  They were essentially exhaust hoses that were clogged with well.....shit (sorry, I refuse to use the word "poop") and calcified urine.  To illustrate just how badly they were clogged, picture the inside diameter of a 2" hose having mounds of calcified urine clog it so bad that the opening is now around 1/2" in some areas and completely clogged in others.  The job of removing these was, to say the least, REPULSIVE.  It involved using a Shopvac to suck out whatever liquid remained in the hoses to avoid "leakage" all over our bedroom.  The ends were then plugged with paper towels and wrestled from their confines and deposited into doubled up trash bags.  I shamefully admit, I behaved like a complete princess and did not join in the festivities.  In fact, at one point, I was retching so badly that Frank scolded me and told me to "get the hell off the boat and sit in the cockpit" (which I gladly did).  When I finally returned to help, I could only do so with wads of wet paper towels shoved up my nostrils so that the smell wouldn't reactivate my gag reflex.  I don't know how he did it without vomiting, but I can assure you there was a lot of swearing and dry heaving involved.

Look of pure disgust
The cherry on top of this chocolate cake was when Frank went to remove the last hose off of our holding tank, the fitting on the tank broke in half, thus spilling about 10 gallons of liquid shit (that's not even ours) into our bilges.  This happened because when the holding tank was replaced (in Mexico), they fabricated the elbow fitting from a fiberglass tube cut at 45 degree 
angles and merely glassed together with a thin layer of woven cloth.  The force applied was very minimal (he even cut the hose with a blade to facilitate removal), so you can imagine the look of surprise, horror, and inevitable disgust on Frank's face when it tore off in his hand. The glop-glop-glop sound of raw sewage spilling into our bilges accompanied by the smell of pure evil will remain a smear on my fragile mind.  Mind you, we did have the forethought, to have our holding tank pumped out and rinsed 3 times before this, but of course, 10 gallons still managed to remain (and seemingly no less diluted at that).  We had to vacuum out our bilges, fill it with about 1/2 a bottle of Soft Scrub, let it sit.  Vacuum again, and so on and so forth.  Of course, when we went to vacuum this, the Shopvac being just as repulsed as us decided enough was enough, and started spewing its contents from its exhaust (yes, that's right, even our vacuum was puking on us).  Frank, being as lucky and chivalrous as he is, managed to protect our brightwork from the brunt of this with his face.  He even got to taste a little of this goodness, when it sprayed into his mouth.  Yummy...

Moral of the matter how much you prepare for this project, No matter how many other horror stories you hear and how hard you try to avoid it, YOU WILL most definitely end up covered with shit.  This is just the cosmic joke that Poseidon likes to play on boat owners.  There is no way to circumvent it, in fact, it seems the more you try, the worse you'll have it.  So for anyone reading this and contemplating this project, our advice to you is to keep lots of spare paper towels (not the cheap ones....go for the Bounty) handy to wipe up the shit, vomit, piss, and tears from everything around you.  

Broken fitting on holding tank
Notice the thin layer of fiberglass