Monday, September 30, 2013

Departure Anticipation

 posted by Christopher

With the reality of departure on the horizon you actually begin to consider not only the fun and adventures but the things you're not too satisfied about. I mean, virgin white beaches, Pina Coladas and beautiful coral reefs are hard to argue against.  However, for a twelve year old boy who just got pulled away from his Xbox at home it’s hard to hear that he’ll have little or no Wi-fi and limited charging on his IPod. I know it might sound pretty spoiled, but try and pull your twelve year old boy or yourself away from internet and power for a year.

No internet?  Are you serious?
Although that test is a little unfair because of the things you're missing from my reality. I'm hoping to be VERY entertained by snorkeling and playing on palm tree lined beaches. I have snorkeled previously and think it’s really awesome to feel like a part of the fish and just notice little things about them. You begin to learn from your own discoveries.

Not so bad after all.
The real question: Is this a real problem or is this just something I've kind of made up?  We have solar energy, a generator and engines, meaning we may end up having enough power to just charge everything without concern. We really don’t know.

A night of restless conspiracy theorizing
for all those who are not satisfied with the quality of bubble blowing goats in South Carolina.
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It Gets Worse! Then Better.

Posted by Alexander Sept. 30

A couple days ago I was sleeping like regular people tend to do. Then I had the the joyful experience of bashing my foot into the wall. I don’t know how I managed to do that in my sleep but Christopher has the sound theory that I was fighting off ninjas in my sleep. Well the next morning I got up and I could barely walk so dad had a look and said I may have broken it. Joy. It is already feeling a bit better though so it’s probably not broken.

More exciting than that is we are going to Disney World! We actually leave today (but still have to do school first). It sounds like Disney World is comprised of four parks and Disney Land (in California) is only two, so it might be a little crazy.

Yesterday we all went to Palm Beach to swim and relax. The waves there were colossal and it was pretty scary.

The waves were even bigger than this one
We went swimming a few times and the current pulled us down the beach. When we tried to get back to shore we had to fight the undertow all the way in and get dragged back out if we weren't careful. Katie stayed on the shore so she wasn't having to swim in the waves, and had a cute little game where she sat on the beach and let the waves come up to her and push her around.

Katie playing in the water
 I tried this but when I stood up after I was covered in wet sand, everyone was. Luckily for us there were showers.

The forest above the beach was full of huge spiders and I couldn't help but feel like a spider was going to drop on my head. It was kind of like that scene in Harry Potter with all the huge spiders. It was freaky.
See you at Disney World.

We decided to walk there, Katie got a little tired.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Renaming Ceremony!

Posted by Katie

The new name had to be covered up so Poseidon or Neptune wouldn't see it until the ceremony was complete.  We used our fanciest towel ;-)
Yesterday we had the wonderfully, weird renaming ceremony!  We had to get champagne, a treat, some wine glasses and any friends around had to come or we would have really bad luck.

Our neighbour Betty came to join us in saying goodbye to Kalalau and hello to Monashee.  Dad read the ceremony off the internet.
We also had to take anything off the boat that said the old name Kalalau.  Also during the ceremony we were not allowed to say the old boat name or show the name until the ceremony was done or ‘bad luck’.

I got to pour the champagne for the ceremony.
Then we had to do this big speech to the four wind gods plus Neptune and Poseidon.  Then we had to throw some champagne into the sea in a certain direction (like East to West, and North to South). 

Throwing champagne into the water as a treat for some gods of the wind and the sea.
Then we got to uncover the name and eat cupcakes!  And of course I went for a dip in the pool after. Smile

Our boat is now officially Monashee!

I’m sick and tired of this, literally

Posted by Alexander


Looking good, still feeling kind of crappy.
I have discovered one of the major drawbacks of home schooling. You don’t get to take days off when your so sick you’re worried you might cough up a lung. OK I'm not THAT sick. But I have been sick for like two weeks now and it’s really starting to tick me off. I'm tired all the time because I keep waking up in the middle of the night and coughing like something that coughs a lot. I don’t know. An ill slug? Anyways it’s so frustrating because this is supposed to be a really cool experience but being sick is dragging it down.

On a happier note the boat is coming along awesomely. There’s even a guy coming today to paint the name Monashee on the boat (If you've read my first blog you know how I feel about that). Annoyingly, in that way that parents do, my parents were right. I have adjusted to the idea of the name Monashee. Now all that dislike for the name is directed at myself for letting Mom and Dad be right again. To get back at them I’m going to try and make it really hard to criticize this piece of writing so they can’t be all like “Ooohhh capitalize this and put a comma that…”. ( That was probably a lot funnier in my head then written on paper).

Taking a break from home schooling and parents who are right all the time.  Rrrrgh.
If any of you have similar problems contact us at goshdarniti’

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

``Of Life, Rafts, and Life Rafts``. Or ``Safety First, Crappy Biscuits Second``.

Scot`s Take:

As we continue to commission and provision the boat, we are learning tons.  Unfortunately, some of the lessons are proving to be more expensive than we anticipated.  But we are learning, nevertheless.

The last couple of days, we have learned more than we ever knew about life rafts.  Hopefully sharing some of that experience here might help save someone else some money, time, or maybe even something more important (your life?).

When we bought our boat, we definitely knew we would want to have a life raft on board.  It is remarkable, but a lot of people seem to cruise without this piece of safety equipment.  It is pretty easy to rationalize not having one, especially on a catamaran.  People argue that cats don't sink (apparently they will fill with water, and even turn over, but because of the two hull design and small keels, they don't go down).  Also, if you are mainly cruising in close to shore, theoretically you can use your dinghy for a life raft, although it doesn't really provide any sun protection, or any of the extra gear found in your standard life raft.  Anyway, early on in the start of our boat buying process, Sara and I agreed that everything about a boat purchase was a compromise one way or another, but we wouldn't compromise on safety, given that we had our three kids aboard.  Therefore, a life raft.

Our original life raft - the 10 person Plastimo TransOcean 10

So, one of the things we liked about this boat when we were shopping was that it came with a life raft. We knew it was out of date, and would need to be serviced (the manufacturer's generally recommend servicing every three years to ensure the thing will work when needed).  But we figured that would be easy to do.

As we are working through our list of commissioning projects, it came time to ensure that the life raft was good to go.  So, I started to look at the cost of getting one serviced.  Surprise number 1: it appears to cost pretty close to about 1/2 the cost of a brand new raft to get an old one serviced, depending on how long it has been since it has last been done.  For us, it would be significantly more than 1/2, since if we were to buy new, we could buy smaller.

The next surprise came when we actually looked at our raft.  It looked like it was built and sold in 2004, without any indication that it had ever been serviced.  So it was at least 6 years past it's service due date.  Which meant it would cost a lot to get it serviced properly.

OK, still, it was quite a bit less to get it serviced than to buy a new one.  So, I did a quick Google search, and sent an e-mail out to companies in both Ft. Lauderdale and Miami about our raft.  About that time came surprise number 3.  Sara and I tried to move the raft out of the back locker, to see what it would be like to get it out to the car.  Ugh!  We could just barely move it, with both of us lifting hard. Primarily, this was due to the fact that the raft was a 10 person affair, meant for a boat bigger than ours.

Getting this into the water if I was incapacitated in an emergency would have been almost impossible.
Surprise number 4 came as we got our first response from a life raft servicing company (84 Boat Works, in Fort Lauderdale).  The first thing they suggested was that our raft was too big for our boat, which we had already figured out, given that it took up a huge amount of space, and we could barely move it.  However, they also pointed out that a bigger raft is actually more dangerous with a smaller group of people, given that the risk of hypothermia increases with fewer bodies warming a larger space.

The biggest surprise came when they told us their opinion of our raft.  According to Brian at 84 Boat Works, they neither carry or service Plastimo, due to the low quality of the inflatable material in the hulls.  His feeling is that they are poorly built compared to the rest of the rafts on the market, and he is not willing to take on the liability of selling them.

So, at that point, we were starting to lean pretty heavily towards getting a new raft.  Pretty expensive, but again, no compromises on safety, right?  Besides, we could re-sell our never-opened life raft, and defray at least some of the cost of the new one.  Combining that and the savings we would have from not getting the old one serviced, a new one wouldn't be that expensive.

Our new, smaller, manageable life raft.  Warrantied, and ready to sit on our boat and never be opened (we hope).
Cue surprise number 5. As mentioned, 84 Boat Works had no interest in taking our old raft for trade, and wouldn't consider selling it for us.  We contacted a sailing consignment store in Ft. Lauderdale, and they confirmed there was not really a market for an out of date raft, since most other people would also just buy new and get a warranty.  The inflatable store in Miami contacted us, and they confirmed that it would be almost impossible to sell the old raft.  A quick search of Craigslist and E-bay revealed little to no market.

So, what to do?  The best offer we got was from Brian at 84 Boat Works, who offered to allow us to open the raft in his parking lot, and they would dispose of it after.  It hurt to think that this several thousand dollar piece of equipment, which had been sealed in a canister for it's entire life, had essentially no value, but that seemed to be the case.

Long story short, we took the best offer available.  In an effort to gain some value out of it, we turned it into an educational field trip for the kids, and took the opportunity to have them watch the safety video that came with the new raft, as well as show them how to deploy a raft, using the old one.  Hopefully that will be a once in a lifetime experience for them.  We also scavenged the old raft for any supplies we could use on the boat, or in our ditch bag.  Finally, we got the kids to try some raft rations and distilled water, again for the educational experience.  We also had them write down what they thought about the whole process.  Their thoughts are copied below.  So in the end, we got an expensive lesson in safety, which I hope we never need to use, but as they say, if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Despite being more than 6 years out of date, the cartridge fired right away, and the raft inflated as designed.
Good-bye Plastimo.  The hulls were punctured and deflated (disconcertingly easily), the canister and contents were removed, and it was forklifted into the dumpster.

Katie`s Take:

Today I learned about safety, life, cool stuff and weird food.  I learned that a life raft that’s for more people then you have is worse, then you might die of freezing plus I learned what was inside a life raft, cold CO2 cool huh.  want to hear something else cool when we were blowing it up the guy just pulled the rope and the box ripped open and the raft exploded open and started to inflate.  Later dad said we had to try out the rations they ok but I liked them

You want me to eat what?

9 year old distilled water, anyone?

Actually, it tastes OK.

Christopher`s Take:

Today I learned all about what being in a life-raft would be like. I can tell you now I am not in favour of that lifestyle. At all. Ever. First what was fun to know was how you would go about getting off an endangered boat. You would pick it up (i.e. the life raft)  and chuck it in the water, then tie it’s zip cord to the boat. Then as it moved away the chord would pull and POP! In a matter of seconds thanks to compressed co2 there would be a life raft waiting for you to jump into.

Not sure we would want to be in here too long.
The raft is sizeable but not overly large to prevent from occupants getting cold because of no body heat. It has a cover which is surprisingly not for precipitation but for sun-burn prevention. Either way life on the raft would be hard. You would need to eat these crummy little ration biscuits that have barely any taste but still taste like chalk for some reason.

Life raft food and water.

Chalk biscuits.  Mmmmmm.

To drink though is sterilized water that comes in packets of barely any water. These are for rationing purposes.

Alexander`s Take:

Today we had an educational safety field trip. We learned about the intricacies  of a life raft. We got to see one blow up which was really cool. Once the rope was pulled far enough from the raft, it popped open and got filled with compressed Co2 which also left stuff behind that looked like dry ice. Apparently a smaller raft is safer to preserve body heat between the people. There were rations aboard like a knife some biscuits, little bags of water and lots of rope. We took some of these things to provision our own raft. Luckily for us we got to go through the educational experience of eating the biscuits and drinking the water. The biscuits were pretty much the definition of flavourless which we got to wash down with water (sarcastic cheering, yaaaaay). Weirdly the water that had been encased in plastic since 2004 tasted like water. Good water.

Mmmm, I get to eat this.  I wonder what it looks like?
OK, I guess I'll try it if I have to.
As a parting thought I’d like you all to try something similar at home. Make some lasagna store it for 9 years. See how that tastes.
catch ya lata

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Climbing in Coral Cliffs (finally)

Posted by Christopher

Finally got my parents to take me climbing!
When we first left Kootenay Lake to start this trip one of my cousins made the remark that I should take up climbing. Now, I had climbed before at gyms in Vancouver but not for a year at least. So I decided that I would make it a goal to try to get to a gym sometime on this trip. Although if you’ve been paying attention to our blog we have not gotten to one, UNTIL NOW!

We were driving around Ft. Lauderdale when I remembered this. So I asked my Dad and he said he would check on his phone. Sure enough we were near Coral Cliffs Climbing Gym.

Katie, showing off her climbing muscles.
All five of us entered the building and it instantly looked awesome. There were spacious walls all around with nicely placed and just reachable handholds. It was pretty expensive so we had a short discussion before we decided that it was worth it.

Totally worth it!
We started to climb with our parents belaying us and we had LOADS of fun. The hardest thing I climbed was a straight wall up to an overhang on which you needed to shimmy sideways over a gap. Then you could pull yourself up to a higher section of wall that you could use to reach the top.

Once Mom and Dad showed that they knew how to belay, they both got to belay us, so that mean lots of climbing for all three kids!
After a couple hours of difficult climbing we all started to get tired so after one last climb (which I barely got up because my hands were so sweaty and I was out of chalk) we turned in. I was very satisfied with the amount and difficulty of the climb but I was a little sad I couldn’t do more.

Alexander, showing, how it`s done.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Living on a boat in Florida

Posted by Katie

Yesterday we did a lot .  First we had school.  I sat down to learn some French on Rosetta Stone with a bowl of Cheerios.   I learned words like nage and garcon (nage means swim and garcon means boy).

Dad, teaching school to Alexander.  I think they are cheating at math by using a calculator.
Next we went to do a few chores.  The fist chore was to get some stuff at a store named Target,  then was a mall where we went to Game Stop and to look at  video  games while mom was in the Container Store.  Then we got lunch.  After was the Hallowe’en store.

More Halloween store time

last night we went for a swim in the bowling hot sun.  Then we had dinner it was very tasty.  we had pasta,carrots and grapes

Trying out the new SUP.  I`m pretty good!
Today we should do some more chores, go to a climbing gym and go to the beach and maybe a Halloween store.

Hanging out on our new house.

Delays, delays, delays

Posted by Scot

After our initial burst of activity getting boat projects done, we seem to stuck in some kind of molasses, making everything impossible to move forward with.  Today has been especially frustrating.

The biggest thing preventing us from going anywhere substantial on the boat is a shudder in the starboard engine that seems to have something to do with the dampening plates.  Not sure exactly what those are, but we are supposed to be having an engine guy come to look at it today.  He was supposed to be here at 9, but it is now 1:15, and he is still not here yet due to car trouble (should I be worried that our engine guy is delayed because his car won't start?).

So, in the meantime, I have been working on other things, but I have run up against multiple hurdles that I can't really get over.  Tried to remove the windlass motor to help install the new one - it seems you have to take apart the whole windlass to get at the bolts holding the motor in, which is a bigger project than I am comfortable doing myself at this point.

Windlass motor partly dismantled.

So, instead, I started to take apart the winches to see if I could grease and oil them.  However, the first one is corroded together, and I couldn't even get as far as getting the top cap off (I just barely managed to undo the screw holding it on).  So, then, I went to replace some of our corroded electrical outlets, and it turns out they are some weird South African "snap-in" type of outlets, that won't mate easily with North American ones.  Not sure if I can buy those here or not, but of course Sara is out with the car, and I am waiting for the engine guy, so I can't really go check (although I don't seem to be able to find them online).

Corroded snap-in outlet.  Does anyone know where to buy these?
Anyway, that is just a sample - all the projects seem to be going like that.  Can't find a replacement bracket for the horseshoe buoy, so we may need to epoxy the holes and start with a new one.  Home Depot has a great deal on replacement speakers for the blown ones on the bow of the boat, but they don't have them in stock, and will only get them if I order them online.  But I can't order them online with a Canadian credit card.

Speaker wire, waiting for new speakers to arrive.  OK, this one is kind of a luxury, I admit.  But it was already wired!
And on and on it goes.  Hopefully if we keep at it, we will figure out a way to get some of these things done.  Although I suspect we may just lower the bar on a lot of these projects, and leave without them being done.  We'll have to see.

Addendum: Eventually Zak, then engine guy did show up, and it turns out he was probably the nicest diesel mechanic you could hope to meet.  Looked like a biker with a shaved head and big bushy beard, but soft-spoken, pleasant, and efficient.  I liked him right away.  He totally impressed me by squeezing his whole body into our tiny engine compartment, and immediately getting to work.  Before long, he was dripping with sweat, in a tiny space in the sweltering Florida sun.  I was worried he was going to pass out from heat stroke, but he assured me working in hot engine rooms is part of the diesel mechanic's lot in life.  I was uncomfortable just watching him, but between him and the engine, there wasn't a spare bit of room, so I couldn't really help other than to bring him a cold bottle of water and fetch the occasional tool for him.

Between Zak, God and our Volvo engine, there wasn't any room left for me to get in and help out.
It wasn't long before he had the engine disconnected from the saildrive.  He then undid the engine mounts, and shifted the whole engine back several inches under his own steam, which was totally amazing.  When Rafael mentioned that we might have to do that, he talked about using the topping lift and a winch to lift the engine.  Zak just did it with pure power.

Not long after that, he had the dampening plate out, and sure enough, the rubber pucks that dampen the engine motion as it is transferred to the saildrive were all eaten away.  So, now we wait for a replacement part before we can get the boat moving.  But at least we got that project started, and some progress was made today.

And, oh yeah, I also replaced a CO detector, and got the dinghy running, and took it out for a spin.  20 horses on that boat makes it a bit scary, but we should be able to plane with the whole family on board.  So the day turned out to be reasonably productive after all.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Boat Projects

Posted by Scot

The view from our kitchen.
Well, we are now firmly ensconced aboard Kalalau, soon to be renamed Monashee.  Yesterday, we got official word from Transport Canada that they will allow us to register under that name, so we are just waiting for the sign guy to put some new decals together.  Once we have that worked out, we can do an official renaming ceremony.

Our other new boat - new SUP to complement our kayak.
In the meantime, we have spent the last few days crossing as many projects off our list as we can.  We've installed new mirrors in the bathrooms to replace the old ones that were losing their mirroring around the edges.  This seems to be a hazard for boat mirrors - must be something to do with marine air.  Anyway, the new ones look great.

Let's see, what else have we done.  Well, we have cleaned every nook and cranny that we have gotten into, which is a lot on a boat.  Sara has been working on organizing all our stuff, and is almost finished outfitting all the cabins with new blankets, sheets, and linens, as well as getting new dishes for the kitchen.

I've been busy too.  I've epoxied some pinhole leaks in one of our holding tanks with some stuff called JB weld - hopefully it stands up to its name.  I also used it to repair a broken rack for our U-shaped life preserver.  I took apart our chart plotter and replaced a broken button on it - seems to work, but we haven't moved the boat yet, so we'll see when we actually get it out on the ocean.

The JB weld did not hold the horseshoe buoy rack.  Back to the drawing board on that one.
I've also worked on troubleshooting some broken pumps and motors on the boat, but was pretty quickly over my head in figuring out the exact problem.  So, today, we had Rafael (the owner of Vector Marine Services) come by the boat, and he and I spent the day on boat projects.  He is a great guy, and we had a really productive day, as well as some good conversation.

The first thing we did was install a new solar panel on the bimini roof.  The panels on this boat are high end, so with just three panels we have a total of 645 watts of solar capacity, which I think is pretty good.

Now three solar panels - free electricity! (i.e. once we've paid for the panels, install, etc.....)
After that, we (by which I mean Rafael) changed the macerator pump in the port head, so now we have two working heads.  We (again mostly Rafael, with me trying to help) then installed two new analog engine hour counters to replace the failing digital ones.  Finally, we tackled the blower in the starboard engine room, which we took out, but still have to get a new one to replace.

Fresh hour meters, still at zero.

So, we are making good progress.  We still have a long list of things to do, and it seems every time we finish one project, we find a few more that we want to get done, but we seem to be moving from big projects to smaller ones which are more within our ability to do ourselves, so hopefully we will get the list small enough to confidently cast off at some point.

Taking some time off the boat to enjoy the Ft. Lauderdale beaches.