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WEEKLY LOGS FOR JANUARY
Week ending January 2 By APW
Phil and I drove the kids back to Albany following a quiet bug-free New Year. They hopped on the train with a grunt of goodbye and with no a backward glance. Teenagers. For New Years eve, Phil made a three stage rocket, which got launched precisely at midnight. Nathaniel won the coin toss and was the detonator. It was a cold, clear windless Maine night, perfect for rocket launching. I managed to get the countdown, blast off and rocket stage separation on videotape. The Sony video camera is also y2k compliant; because, just at the precise moment of lift off, (at midnight according) to Phil's atomic clock coordinated wrist watch,) a small readout appeared in the lower right hand corner stating January 1, 2000.
Just before Christmas, I had gotten the quote from the cushion maker on the actual cost to make Iwalani's cushions. There are two settees, two single bunks, one double bunk, a pilot berth, and two rectangular cushions for the cockpit seats. The latter were to be in Sunbrella, the interior cushions are dark green velvet. I did my very best not to laugh when she added it all up over the phone and announced the grand total-$6000.00. That was how much we paid for the new diesel Westerbeke and almost half again as much what we paid for the sails. I told her she was at that point, way out of my league. "But, your paying for a professional." she said "You know when you got to the doctor's and pee in the little cup and they charge you $80.00? That's the cost for a professional job."
I told her that her analogy was precisely the same. The actual material cost for a urinalysis is roughly thirty three cents. I would never pay that much, for a urinalysis, when I can do it myself.
I told her we would buy our own industrial sewing machine and make everything ourselves. Never mind that my sewing expertise is with absorbable suture material and simple interrupted stitches, through furred or feathered skin. How hard can it be? It had been "frugal Phil's" idea all along. But, I had been against it because the machines sold for $1300.00. Needless to say, the newest member of Iwalani's equipment crew arrived just after Christmas, a seventy pound behemoth named Bertha, a Sailright sewing machine that can sew through fourteen layers of canvas, can be hand cranked and can also double as a Medieval torture device, should we desire to sew pirates to sharks. She (hopefully) can also serve as a source of income for us- when we too become "expert seamstresses". Cushion construction should commence mid-January.
Also, just between the New Year and Christmas, Phil and I got our yellow fever vaccinations. I decided to go to my parasitology professor from Tufts, Dr. Leonard Marcus, who is a medical doctor, veterinarian and rabbi all rolled into one. He specializes in zoonotic and tropical disease and has a small practice in his house in Newton, Mass. We could have spent hours with him going over tropical diseases and their prevention, but we had a ferry to catch out of New London.
Yellow fever is a viral disease which is very nearly eradicated from most of the world. It is so named because of the yellow tinge its victims acquire from jaundice. I wasn't worried about the disease, per se, but was more worried about having to get the vaccination for bureaucratic reasons, in some third world setting. The cost for the yellow fever vaccination was $100.00, there is no booster required. Dr. Marcus also convinced us to get Hepatitis A vaccinations. Hep A can be transmitted through contaminated food sources. It is also a viral disease and is much more ubiquitous than yellow fever. The cost of the vaccination was $85.00 and requires a booster in six months. Dr. Marcus also convinced us to start the hepatitis B series, which we shall do in Maine when we get our boosters for tetanus. He was vehemently against the cholera vaccine. Which from my readings is pretty worthless any ways. Cholera is caused by an organism called vibrio, which is pretty easily killed with appropriate antibiotics. He wrote in our little yellow paper vaccination booklets that we would have a severe reaction to the cholera vaccine. Evidently some countries insist on it, as an income producer? Dr. Marcus, said there is an oral vaccine for typhoid, which is currently unavailable, but would be worth getting when it is back on the market. Typhoid is caused by Salmonella, a bacteria which can also be killed by the appropriate antibiotic.
Also arriving this month was another expensive small package, the cutter for the propeller shaft. A $345.00 stainless steel razor disc that should sheer off any fouled lines. It came from The Evolution Co.in Rockland Maine.
I tried to order the Spectra watermaker. But was given the number for a rep in Rhode Island . They don't want to sell to me directly. Left a message with the rep and haven't heard anything back. They are not getting off to a good start- The Village Little Wonder watermaker is looking better all the time.
Iwalani's documentation papers arrived last week. We documented her on-line and avoided a $150.00 fee by not going through an agent. On-line documentation was incredibly easy and fast. However, we have the advantage over most, since Phil is the builder. Phil's radio license came- technician, no-code. He is practicing Morse code on the lap top with the aid of a program he downloaded "Ham University" I am also learning it vicariously. Ditditdit dahdahdahditdahdit dah dahdahdah- uh oh, we haven't learned F.
I received a very nice letter from the Maine State Veterinary Licensing board. In addition to an annual licensing fee, Veterinarians also are required to have 12 hours of continuing education. This has never been a problem for me in the past as I am usually way over the required minimum. Finding lectures in Veterinary Medicine around the world will be challenging, but not impossible. The state of Maine is very helpful in allowing me to space the requirements out somewhat. I want my license to remain current as I will be practicing from Iwalani, although I am having a difficult time finding out the legal specifics of a floating pet clinic.
Today, I made my first on-line credit card payment through MBNA. I was testing the y2k bug as well as the system. We are going to take two credit cards with us-one Mastercard and one Visa. I plan on making payments on-line from my investment account, from around the world. MBNA said no problem, Chase Visa said they shouldn't be too far behind. Right now I have too many credit cards. One of the ways we financed this boat, was to take advantage of introductory credit card offers with interest rates of 2 or 3%. When the rates inclined I switched the balance to another card. For the last three years we have had roughly sixty thousand dollars loaned to us for two or three percent interest. Once, I was socked a $75.00 fee to transfer a balance, but the fee was still minimal for the low interest. The time is approaching when I will pay all these balances off. I am hoping for a stock market high in mid-January followed by a Greenspam slam in February. Debts should be gone by then.
We also met with our accountant, at the Tax Bracket in West Bath. She will be handling our finances for us while we are away. She will take care of house and medical insurance, Phil's child support, Vet license fees, house mortgage payments, taxes, and forwarding mail to us. As of June 20, 2000 our mailing address will be:
P.O. Box 165, Bath, Me. 04530
That's it for December!! AW
Week ending January 9 By PS
This has been a week of varied activities. Monday and Tuesday Amy and I figured out which charts we would need for the first half of our trip. I really didn't think it would take two days. We used the recommendations of our friend Mike Rowland who had circumnavigated the North Atlantic last year. He said that we should use the Imray charts for the first part of our trip. They seemed more focused toward cruising sailboats than just general information found a chart. We use the catalog of the defense-mapping agency to decide the charts past the ABC islands. Once we figured out the charts to the Marquises we discovered that there were none for Tahiti. Imagine that! Tahiti of all places. The island of Paradise but no charts. A phone call to the Armchair Sailor revealed that the French have highly detailed charts of the area, but cruisers rarely use them. It seems that navigating the area is done by eye so to speak. Traveling by day using a lookout in the rigging. The Armchair Sailor also recommended that we not get detailed charts for the entire trip because plans do change. We ended up with a list of 30 or so charts, detailed ones as far as the Galapagos Islands and general planning charts for the remainder of the trip. We will also be using about eight or nine pilot books.
Then it was on to making up the final lists of items to order. We made lists for Defender Industries, West Marine, and Hamilton Marine. The lists seem to never end. I don't think they will till we finally leave. I was also struggling with the muffler arrangement. My original idea was to have a horizontal muffler on the port side of the engine. After giving it some thought I realized that if the engine was not running and we were on a port tack, it might be possible for the exhaust water in the muffler to flood the engine. I looked at several possibilities and finally decided that I would have to get a different muffler. I am going to place the muffler directly behind the engine and use a vertical lift arrangement from Cemtek Industries. This will eliminate the problem of the boat heeling and engine flooding. I spoke to the tech support at Cemtek and learned how to size the muffler properly. You calculate the volume of the hose where water would drain back to the muffler when the engine is shutdown. You figure that 50 percent of the volume is water. The muffler needs to accommodate that volume of water and not be more than half full. I still may have to get stainless-steel elbow fabricated to allow a good run for the exhaust hose. It seems that fiberglass exhaust fittings should be at least two feet from the exhaust manifold. The muffler is about 16 inches from the manifold, which is about as close as it can be.
I am also studying for my Morse code exam the end of this month. Things are going better than I expected. I can recognize about 20 characters. When I first started listening to Morse code it all sounded the same. The only problem I had with the Ham University software was unknowingly trying to learn code at 10 words a minute. It took me a while to realize why I was having so much difficulty. Once I changed the settings to seven words per minute things went much more smoothly. I spend about 30 minutes each day studying. I think I will have no trouble passing the five words per minute exam. I would like to pass the 13-word permit exam, which would give me my General Class license. Bob Ayer, from Coastal Marine Electronics, told me that the FCC has decided to upgrade people with five words per minute to a general class license in April of this year. Even if I only pass five words per minute I will still be upgraded. Bob came down to the boat on Wednesday to make recomendations for electrical equipment installation. I really didn't want him to come down after the boat was launched and tell me that I had interference on the Single Side Band Radio because of a poorly layed out system! He should be getting back to me with a drawing of the electrical system by the first of next week.
The galley faucets and head shower fittings arrived this week. While roughing in the shower fittings I found they did not fit. It seems the faucet handles don't match the plumbing. Oh well, this is just start of hundreds of minor problems getting all the systems installed.
Today I worked on the rudder. It's three and a half inches thick, three feet wide and twelve feet high. Lugging around those heavy pieces of douglas fir kept me warm. With any luck I will have the rudder hung tomorrow. That's all for now. PS
Week ending January 16 By PS
Well this week started out warm and sunny and ended cold and windy. Monday I put the rudder together. I made sure to paint the edges that join together with bottom paint. I don't want any worms eating my rudder. The rudder is made up of three pieces of fir, three and 1/2 inches thick and twelve inches wide. I made bolts from three quarter inch galvanized rod to bolt them all together. It probably weighs about 200 pounds. But as I told Amy, when it first goes in the water it will probably try to float. I also did some research on radio e-mail. I looked up a system I had researched before, called Pactor and found the price was now half what it was a year ago. Using my single side band radio, laptop and the 600 dollar Pactor II hardware I can communicate at least 16,000 miles at 1K per second. This is not exactly like a 56 K modem but it's the fastest you can go at Ham frequencies. Satellite frequencies allow higher transfer rates. Along with getting the Pactor II I also need to upgrade Technician license to a General Class license. This means that I have to take another written exam and pass a Morse code test. The FCC has changed the rules so that on April 15 you could have a General Class license passing only the five words per minute code test. I will be taking the code test the end of this month and the written exam sometime in February. I 've been studying an hour or so a day, with varying rates of success. Today, I continued my lessons on the Ham University software and just couldn't seem to advance to the next lesson. It was as if I had not learned very much at all. This code thing can be really frustrating. The benefit of knowing code becomes apparent when communications, due to propagation or interference, are difficult on the Ham frequencies. Under these conditions code is 10 times as likely to get through as voice comunication. Through my e-mail correspondence about Pactor I learned that my radio SEA 235 is not the most popular radio to have. It seems the Icom radio is more popular. Well, I'm not going to get rid of this radio now. We'll just have to wait to see.
Tuesday Amy helped me hoist up the rudder so I could fit the hardware. I was able to get the lower two pintel straps to work well, but the upper one needed some major modification. I had two choices. I could have the fabricator build a new one, or I could try re-bending the one I had. I decided to try the latter. I have an oxy-acetalene torch and began heating the steel. The modification was a two-step process. First, I bent the sides in at the base of the pintel and then made a sharp kink to flare the strap part out. Amy came home from work just in time. She held one side with a clamp while I bent the other side using another clamp as leverage. It was just getting dark so you could see the red hot area of steel quite well. Amy asked me how did I know how far to bend the piece. I told her I could get it close enough by eye. The rest I could do with a sledge hammer when it was cold.
Wednesday the muffler came. But it was the wrong one. Luckily I found that I could exchange it for the correct one at the satellite office of H and H Propeller, which is only 20 minutes away. Also , I got a phone call from a local boat builder,John Keyes, asking for some advice of riveting. It was a sunny warm day so I decided to go in our 1969 MG. After pumping up a flat tire I was on my way with a top-down and the radio player blasting my new Cars CD. It was great. The MG named "Melvin" seemed glad for the spin. When I returned I found the UPS man dropping off our Spectra Water Maker. It was the third time this week he had been to the house. He mentioned that he had a pretty well worn path.
Thursday Amy took the muffler with her to work exchanged it for the correct one. I worked on tiller arrangement and the cockpit coamings. The weather had changed dramatically and it was 10 degrees inside the barn. I couldn't use the wood stove because the rudder was in the way. Whan Amy got home from work I had her checkout the tiller arrangement. I was using a 2x4 to figure out the shape and length of the tiller. I had adjusted the length so that it came just inside the cockpit. When Amy tried it she decided it need to be longer, so now itreaches to the middle of the cockpit. We can always cut it off.
We also phoned in our order to the Armchair Sailor. As it turns out there are two Armchair Sailor stores. It seems the first one we dealt with in Seattle Washington was an ex-franchise of the main store in Newport, Rhode Island. Amy had placed the first order to Seattle and I placed this order to the Newport store. The people in Newport were not to pleased to find that we had placed our original order to Seattle. We found the Seattle store on the Internet. It seems that the Newport store needs to modify their keywords for their Internet site so that they come to the top of a search engine, not the Seattle store.
Friday we figured out how much cherry we would need for the interior trim. We drove to North Yarmouth to a place called Fat Andy's. He deals in tropical and native hardwood lumber. By the way, I met Andy and he's not fat. It was bitter cold and the wind was howling. The wind chill was at least 20 below zero. We managed to get it loaded and tied down before we both froze to death. Paying the bill was a pleasure because the office was heated. Next we drove down to Portland to the pickup our order at Hamilton Marine. We picked up four hundred feet of chain, 24 feet of 3 inch hose, some 3/8"rope and various pieces of hardware. It seems that every time we go there to pickup an order things don't run very smoothly. Arriving at 4:30, we still spent almost an hour picking up our order. Moving the chain was not something they looked forward to. After attempting to horse it off the loading dock into the pickup I convinced them it would be much easier just to roll it in. It was in a barrel. The big guy stormed off mumbling under his breath that he would be responsible. It got rolled just fine. Then we left to find a sushi bar. We found one not far from Hamilton's. Much to our surprise our friend Mike Rowland and his wife Connie were there. Mike had circumnavigated the Atlantic last year. He's been a great help in planning the first leg of our trip. Sometimes it seems like a small world. Here each of us were, some two hours from our homes, running into each other in a sushi bar.
Saturday I worked on the boomkin. The boomkin is made up of planks that extend out beyond the stern along each side of the rudder. This will give us a good platform to work from when dealing with the self-steering gear. We also cleaned up around boat to make room for the cherry and supplies that have come in this past week. We also un-shipped the rudder so that we could get the wood stove hooked up again.
Today I got the stove and heaters going and managed to get the shop up to 30 degrees. The boat actually went up to about 50 degrees with electric heat going full blast inside. I spent some time with the Ham University program. I'm still struggling. I just can't seem to get consistent. We put up the electric light fixtures and took measurements for the curtains. We were having so much fun that before we knew it, it was 7 p.m. Well, it's nearly midnight now so I better sign off. PS
Week ending January 23 By PS
Cold is the word of the week! 0 to 10 degrees outside and 20-30 degrees inside the boat.
Monday the Spectra Water maker came. I spent the day laying out the components on the wall of the quarter berth that faces the engine room. It looks like I can get them all to fit reasonably well. I'm setting it up with a 6-gallon tank to store water for the back flush operation. Back flushing must be done if the unit isn't used more that once every three or four days. I ended up getting the 380 unit, which has two pressure pumps. I'll use only one and save the other for a backup.
Tuesday I built the battery box. You would think that building a box would be easy. It's just four sides and a bottom, but.... it has to hold 600 pounds of batteries in any weather! The last thing you want is batteries flying around in a storm or falling out of the box when the boat is upside-down. The LifeLine batteries have a small lip along the side, which I will use to hold them down. I put the battery box behind the engine and about 2 feet higher than the lowest point of the keel. I've seen people put them under the floorboards but I wouldn't. First regular batteries, including gel cells, give off explosive hydrogen gas. And it's the first place to flood. If I need to contact help I don't want my electrical system off line. Even though the LifeLine AGM don't gas, I'm not taking any chances.
Wednesday I did a lot of phoning. First I called around to find some stainless steel to make and exhaust elbow. The bend to the new muffler is too sharp for the 3-inch hose. I found a place in Rockland called Steel and Marshall. I sent them an example that I had made from steel exhaust pipe. I hope to have it back this week. Then I called Coastal Marine Electronics to see if the ProSine Inverter was in. It wasn't, but I had an interesting conversation with the owner, Bob Ayer. He called the SEA factory after I sent him some e-mail that I had received about the SEA not being the best radio. It turns out the e-mail was correct. The radio I have doesn't do well in "Continuos Duty Cycle" That is to say, transmitting digital data for long periods of time. When you transmit voice you do not speak continuously for 30 minutes or an hour at a time. So, Bob told me that he would talk to the sales rep and see about trading the SEA 235 for a newer version- One that has been tested with the type of modem I want to use (Pactor II). I've got my fingers crossed! I also called Globe Wireless. It seems they have the best system for HF (radio) e-mail. They have receiving stations worldwide and their software can do all the configuring of the radio. This means you don't have to worry about propagation or the time of day, or which channel to use. Their hardware and software is proprietary though, which means that you can't use it with any other system. This whole communication thing is still up in the air.
Thursday was the foam and fabric fiasco. Amy was trying to work with these people in Brunswick for the cushion material. They ordered 35 yards. That's over 100 feet at 54 inches wide, which was twice as much as we needed. Velvet at 45 dollars a yard is not something to waste! Anyway, after long negotiations we only had to pay part of the re-stocking fee. On top of that, they cut the foam too narrow, so now we have to glue on pieces to make them fit. I can't imagine how they would have turned out if they did the entire job!
Friday I worked on mounting the three fuel tanks and laying out the rest of the plumbing. Getting all these systems to work out in an organized fashion is quite a challenge. I can't imagine what it is like to coordinate the systems on the ships they build at Bath Iron Works.
Saturday I finished the tanks and we drove to DeLorme's Map Store in Yarmouth to buy some software. We updated our Street's GPS navigation software and bought a GPS program, which covers the entire world. The latter program doesn't show enough detail to use for coastal navigation, but it is pretty cool seeing the undersea ridges and valleys we will be sailing over. We also bought a map-scanning program that will allow us to scan a chart and use the GPS.
Sunday I built the floor in the engine room. Finally I can walk around the engine without twisting my ankle. It was 0 degrees outside and 10 degrees inside when I started. As I was bringing in more wood I noticed the stove was glowing red so I closed the draft a bit. I wanted to warm up the shop fast, but I didn't want to burn it down in the process! Well, that's all for this week. PS
This is the log for the week ending January 30, 2000. By PS
This week got off to a slow start but ended late Sunday night.
Monday I called the boat haulers (CWC) to set up a date to move Iwalani to Robinhood Marine. The movers said they didn't start working weekends till May. I wanted to move the boat on Saturday April 29, which also happens to be the launch date. They suggested going on Friday, to which I said no thank you. I am superstitious when it comes to Maritime related activities. Friday's a bad time to move a boat. I think this comes from the fact that more accidents happen on that day because people have their mind on the weekends and not on their work. We compromised on Thursday the 27th. Then I called Robinhood Marine and ran into trouble there. The yard manager was concerned about the boat sinking. I was so flabbergasted that I told him, as a professional boat builder, I would be doing everyone a favor if I shot myself and if that didn't work, I would tie a to rock around my leg and jump off the pier. I think I over reacted. They told me they would get back to me in a couple of days....
Tuesday Amy and I went to see our doctors. Along with getting the boat ready, we feel it is important that we are ready health wise. I did some more research on HF e-mail and found another possibility in Globe Wireless. They seem to have the best high frequency radio e-mail system I found so far. They have about 30 receiving towers around the world. Their hardware is proprietary at a cost of around $1,500 plus a monthly service charge. The good thing about the system is it's virtually automatic. It keeps track of your location and takes into account propagation to tune itself to the correct receiving stations. They also send weather bulletins and safety information. Time is running out so we need to make a decision soon.
Wednesday we went to Robinhood Marina to try to smooth things over. I really didn't want to move the boat any further then I had to. Robinhood is only about five miles away. As it turned out we got the yard manager calmed down. The launching will take place at noon on April 29. We are also making arrangements with a restaurant at the Marina to cater lunch.
My four-way data switch came. It turned out to have the wrong type of connectors. I called the manufacturer and was told they only came with female connectors. I went to Radio Shack and bought male ends and soldered them on. Now I don't have to keep plugging and unplugging devices to the serial port.
Thursday I worked on our Toyota Land Cruiser. It's a 1966 FJ 45. It's quite unique. It's a station wagon, which was only made for three years. I've owned it since 1975 and after 25 years of service it doesn't owe me a thing. I was getting ready to plow some snow when the clutch decided to give out. I needed to order some new parts but the Toyota dealer said it would be a long shot. I decided to browse the Internet. As I have told Amy time and again there are always special interest groups for everything you can possibly imagine. I wasn't too surprised to find a site called FJ45.com. Unfortunately, they didn't have the parts I was looking for. I kept my fingers crossed and the dealer was actually able to come through for me. He said a rebuild kit for the clutch slave cylinder would be in on Friday at a total cost of $16.59. I felt so lucky I should have bought a MegaBucks ticket.
Friday I tried the new weather fax program we bought. It's called Coretex and is definitely worth the extra money. Unlike the PC weather fax program, this is truly a Windows 95 application. It has great editing tools and receives beautiful faxes and satellite photos. I did find a problem with the scheduler though. I called the company and spoke to Bjorn. After checking the program himself, he agreed there were problems. He hopes to have them fixed in the next few days. It seems I tried a part of the program that no one else had. As far I am concerned this is just a minor problem. I also spent a good part of the day studying for my Morse code test. I have been spending about two hours a day studying. Lately I've been listening to the radio broadcasts of Morse code and trying to transcribe them with varying rates of success. Saturday was test day so it was now or never.
Saturday Amy and I drove to Rockland so I could take my Morse code test. I was pretty nervous. I could pass the test one of two ways. I could transcribe twenty-five characters in a row correctly or answer 7 out of 10 written questions about the code that I had transcribed. I tried answering the questions but could only answer 6 out of 10. Luckily, in the middle of the transcription, I was able to put together about 75 characters. Passing this Morse code test means I can finally transmit voice on my single side band transceiver. On our way home we picked up the stainless-steel exhaust elbow, from Steele and Marshall, and stopped at Bob Ayers house to pick up our Pro Sine inverter. Bob was nice enough to spend about three hours explaining ham radio to us. I feel very lucky. I have met only a handful of people like Bob my life. He is very knowledgeable and willing to share what he knows. And he has the patience to explain things so you can understand them. Shortly after we arrived home the phone rang. It was Bob calling to set up a schedule to talk on the radio. At 7 p.m. I made by first voice contact on a single side band radio with Bob. I am looking forward to the time when I can talk to Bob from thousands of miles away. I'll be able to picture him in his attic radio shack while I am on the high seas rocking and rolling.
Sunday: Amy has been working on the cushions. She made a small "practice" one first. It showed her a few things on how best to put them together. She also took a close look at a velvet seat cushion she had, which revealed a few tricks, too. She has the pilot berth foam cut and covered with liners. Now it's on the the green velvet! I finished paneling the main bulkhead and quarter berth area. It was 9 p.m. when I finally came in for supper. Well, it's 11:45 p.m. and time for me to post this log. PS