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Week ending February 6 By APW

This week marked an exercise in futility. Orders arrived. Orders were processed, orders were wrong, orders were sent back. The inverter arrived and was the wrong unit. We needed one we could hard wire. The unit that arrived, necessitated using an extension cord. This would not do.

Our rope order finally arrived from Mississsippi- COD. The trucking company called Thursday night to get directions. Phil was smart enough to ask what size truck they drove- forty eight feet. There was no way, a truck that size could drive down our windy, icey road. We met the most appreciative truck driver at the Georgetown Fire Department.

The closer we get to leaving, the more household items seem to break down. In addition to the dishwasher, the vaccuum cleaner also decided to join the ranks of the AWOL (appliances without love). Stinky, the Ford Explorer, also decided that life would be better in retirement. Sixteen hundred dollars later, we taught him otherwise. New ball joints, and new hubs and he is reluctantly back on the road again. Phil's truck also needed a state inspection. It did not pass at the first station because of an alleged bad tie rod. The second station said he needed three new tires. At this point we had run out of state inspection stations, so the new tie rod was actually the cheapest route out.

I am writing this log, while sitting in a parking lot in Fall River Mass. while Phil gets his Captains license upgrade. I've spent the better part of the morning talking to Arnold the computer, while he memorizes my speech patterns and types what I say. I should probably leave a paragraph uncorrected so the reader made better understand the limits of technology and Dragon Naturally Speaking. I tend to talk out loud to these cussid machines and Arnold writes every word down and then some.I will recite a well known dirty limerick and give you Arnold's unedited version.

Well it got the first line right about the man from Nantucket... but Phil didn't want any dirty stuff on the web page. Oh well,I will try another verse "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" and see if you can decifer it.

Listing my children and you shell here of the midnight dry of Paul Revere. On a team of April in 75 hardly a man is now live remembers that famous day near he said to his friend if the British March by land tonight hang a land turned in the North Tower churches a signal light, wanted by land and to live feisty and AMA opposite shore Shelby the need to get up and sped the alarm through every Middlesex Village and farm...

Okay maybe my annunciation isn't perfect. Lets try it again :

On the eat team of April in 75, hardly a man is now live pool remembers that famous day he and year. He said to his friend, if the British March by land tonight, paying a land turned in the North Tower church as a signal light, one if land and to if I see and eye on the opposite shore Shelby ready to get up and spread the alarm through every Middlesex Village and farm...

I feel like I'm talking to a parrot. The IQ level is about the same. Phil assures me that the computer will learn and eventually do better. In fact it seems to do better if you recite a long sentence all at once. This program will hopefully help when we are bouncing around at sea and the hunt and peck method of typing just doesn't work.

If communication is key, then email technology will be the method by which we can communicate back to those who are following our trip. We've been in talks with Iridium and OrbCom for satellite email systems. No decisions made yet. We also spoke to our local newspaper and they seemed very interested in articles about our progress.

Phil did a lot of the carpentry on the boat. He finished paneling the main bulk head, hung doors and put all the latches on the cabinets. He also worked on the nav. station.

In addition to our usual warehouse decor, our house now is taking on the look of a cushion factory-navigating from the kitchen to the living room works best if you're at dachsund height.


Week ending February 13 By PS:

Well I just finished taking my up-grade to Master exam for my Coast Guard license. I'll know in a few minutes how I did. I think I passed. This up-grade will allow me to run an inspected vessel up to 25 tons. I found out today that I would also need a radio operator's license. Aggg. When will the tests end? Next Saturday I will be taking my General Ham exam. The General will allow me to operate on more frequencies on the Ham bands. I wish it were good for the Coast Guard too but......

This week I worked on the nav station, electric panel and the ice box. The correct inverter arrived and I found a place near the batteries to locate it. This meant that I had to put my diaphragm bilge pump on the opposite side of the cockpit. No need of exposing the inverter to any more water than necessary. It's a good thing that I am laying out as much gear as I can before I install it permanently. It's a hard job getting all the systems co-ordinated.

I increased the size of the nav table so that our largest charts will fit. I also have a space under the tabletop to store all of our charts. Putting a bookshelf in the nav space allowed me to mount the radios underneath it.

I insulated the icebox with three one-inch layers of Celotex. It's a high R-value foil faced foam insulation. The inside fore and aft walls of the box are plywood so that I can install shelves and the cooling block.

The electric panels are on the port side of the nav table. The wind generator, main DC and the AC panels are mounted to a wall that is open along the top and bottom for ventilation. My worst fear, next to running into a container, is a fire. Electronics can be a real hazard. We will have a large CO2 extinguisher close by. While I 'm talking about extinguishers, we will have two automatic halon extinguishers in the engine room. One will be over the batteries and one over the engine. We'll also have a dry chemical in the main living space. The dry chemical will be a last resort because they ruin equipment.

The wiring for the wind generator is causing me to lose some sleep. The generator puts out 220 volts three phase AC. I haven't found out what the wire sizes should be for 3 phase AC. The DC wire that I bought is luckily an acceptable size. I failed to read the DC sizing chart carefully. The length of the wire needs to be measured in BOTH directions! Duh! Why don't they just write the chart taking that into consideration? The only situation I can think of, where the one way distance would work, is on a car which uses one wire on the positive side and uses the metal on the car as the ground.

Amy worked on the cushions. She completed the one for the pilot berth and we tried it on the boat. It fit great! Having never made one before she has good reason to be pleased. Boat cushions are like boats. There are curves and angles everywhere! I can see that she will be able to make money repairing other peoples upholstery as we sail around the world.

We are still making out order lists, but they are getting smaller!

Well, it's almost time to go. It's been a long weekend. I left Georgetown at 4 am on Saturday morning to get to Fall River by 9 am. I spent Saturday night at the Arenstams in Plimouth. Peter was one of my best students at the Apprentice Shop. He is now taking care of the historic vessel, Mayflower. He's got a lot of responsibility taking care of such an historic landmark. The plantation is lucky to have such a competent person in charge! We stayed up till 10pm talking boats. Then I was up at 7 to get to Fall River by 9. Now it's 6pm and I still have a 4-hour ride ahead of me. I'm going to sleep in tomorrow! P.S. The entire class passed the exam. Now I am a licensed Master Mariner. Only two more exams to go (I hope).


Week ending February 20 By APW:

This was the first week we didn't spend on the phone ordering boat stuff. Phil spent most of the time studying for his next Ham License test- "General written", which he passed on Saturday during a whopping snowstorm. Now he should be able to upgrade from technician class to General class, in April, since he passed the Morse Code part a few weeks ago. It is confusing to me, since he seems to have to take so many tests, but he seems to have it under control. He also found out about another test he must take , also administered by the FCC, for his Marine Radio Operators License. He found out about that test at the Captains License Testing in Fall River a few weeks ago. All these tests allow people to operate radios at different frequencies. It sounds more like a bureaucratic nightmare with the FCC not really consolidating the radio wavelengths into an understandable system. Most boat radio operators do not have the ham licenses. I am just thankful he is doing it and not me. I get all tongue tied just trying to talk on the phone, let alone broadcasting out on the airwaves to hundreds of people.

In addition to studying for tests, Phil was busy installing the mast step. This is a big chunk of wood that is fastened into place in the cabin sole. He carved a rectangular hole about 3x5 inches into this block, into which a corresponding "heel" at the bottom end of the mast will fit. It is sort of like a giant mortise and tenon joint. He also worked on the blocks, fitting the shieves. Now that our rope is here we should be able to spend our nights "attaching the rope strops" to the blocks. This is all new to me, so I will keep readers posted as to how this is accomplished.

In addition to working on the boat our regular lives must go on. I am working on another barred owl that arrived at the clinic, with mysterious neurological signs. I suspected head trauma initially, possibly from an entanglement with the "four wheeled" species. I ruled out lead, (no lead shot on x-ray), but not other heavy metals, which to test for, is very expensive. So, right now I am tube feeding her and keeping my fingers crossed. The first owl, had a distal wing fracture, which healed well with my new splint design, using foam board. I am also trying to finish a huge painting, for some people in Georgetown who initially wanted a mural. All this is going on with the cushion factory taking up center stage in our living room.

Owl and CushionAhhh, yes, the cushions. I have now completed the three biggest and hardest, (the ones with the most bevels) and for all intents and purposes, I can safely say, that, were you to see one of my cushions lying on the side of the road, you would instantly recognize it as a cushion. That's about all I can say regarding my cushions. People ask me if I can justify now, "the professionals" charge of $6000.00, and I must honestly say, that I still can't figure that one out. Most of my sewing frustration, so far, comes from being too cheap. I decided to try using standard dual duty thread, like one would find at Wally World and after spending one whole day sewing six inches at a time, having the thread break, re-threading the needle, and repeating this process hundreds of times; I realized the expensive polyester thread I have to order from Sailrite, is really worth it. It now takes me one day to make one cushion. I have to cut the foam to fit, then spray it with Lysol, to prevent mildew in the tropics, cover the foam with batting, make a dacron cover, to protect the foam and make it easy to take the final cover on and off, and finally make the outer zippered velvet cover which gets sprayed with Scotchguard. Meanwhile the cushions have to be taken outside away from Larry the Canary, during the spraying process, because if the Lysol didn't kill him the Scotchgard surely would.

Also this week, we started our Hepatitis B vaccines and got Tetanus boosters. Ouch. They knocked Phil for a loop. Dr. Marcus recommended Hep b in case we had to have a transfusion. Right now I could use a transfusion. We left the house early this morning to pick up the kids at the train station in Albany NY, 5 1/2 hours away. At 10:15, somewhere in Massachusetts, Phil asked me to call our answering machine at home with the car phone, to make sure the boys didn't miss the train. Phil's ex-wife is notorious for being late for everything, and sure enough , there was a message from her saying they got to Rochester just as the train was pulling out. They got tickets for a later train which should have put them into Albany at 7 p.m, only the train is an hour late. We won't be home until 2 am. Luckily, I have a wonderful pet sitter that lives minutes away, so she can feed the pets. The owl will have to wait. APW

Week ending February 27 By APW

For awhile we had been ahead of schedule. This week, Ben and Than came for their February vacation and Phil and I pretty much went on teenager time and goofed off. I am afraid that, fourteen-hour workdays will be in our future.

We all had a great time though, as I decided we should spend the time taking SCUBA lessons. We will be sailing through some of the greatest diving areas in the world and it seemed pretty dumb not to be enjoying some of the sights under water, as we sail along above. Having dive gear with us will also allow us to perform emergency repairs, lost anchor retrievals etc. etc. Like Beulah, the sewing machine, diving gear should hopefully, pay for itself.

I had been certified through PADI, during the summer of my tenth high school year, years and years ago- twenty six, to be exact. In fact, the world of diving has changed drastically since then. The only thing that has stayed the same is the tanks. Masks are made of pliable silicone, instead of rubber. The valve at the bottom of the mask that I used to rely on for clearing water has disappeared. (Unsafe, apparently it lets water in, in deep water) Fins, (not flippers) are huge and weigh about ten pounds apiece. An inflatable, jacket-like vest called a BCD, or, buoyancy control device is now worn with the tanks and lead directly attached. The most revolutionary change is the use of dive computers, which are now standard equipment for each diver and can show how much air is left in the tank, when you need to make decompression stops, if you are ascending too fast, compass headings and other neat stuff. This has eliminated the old Navy dive tables which before, were a big source of frustration.

The equipment is not the only thing to have changed over the years. My body took a lot more lead to overcome its buoyant tendencies and I felt like the fat woman in the circus wrestling with a boa constrictor, when I had to do the doffing and donning of the gear under water. In 1974 they threw the gear to the bottom of the sea (granted it wasn't that far down and you could see it lying on the bottom) and we had to free dive down to it and put it on. Back then, the instructors also would swim by and turn off your tank or knock your mask off. Nowadays, they don't go in for such militaristic methods. It was very relaxing.

The kids took to it well. Phil, on the other hand, was in a bad car accident as a teenager and had to have his eardrum reconstructed; as a result, he never liked putting his head under water. Snorkeling never bothered him. I had my doubts about his abilities to dive. Years ago, we made a pact that if he ever learned to SCUBA dive, I would learn to land an airplane, an act that actually terrifies me, because I am such a mechanical Klutz. Landing a plane is a little like, rubbing your tummy, patting your head, whistling Dixie, pedaling your feet and trying to control your bladder, all at the same time. Having your husband as an instructor probably doesn't help either.

Well, it looks like I'll be searching for a flight instructor when we get back. Phil had some problems at first, with clearing his ears, but managed to overcome them with perseverance and determination. All four of the instructors worked with him and he will need one extra night of diving tomorrow night, but is well on the way to getting certified. Back to our normal routines tomorrow. APW