Water Maker Installation

The project of the year is complete!  So, remember when I wrote about yoinking out our practically new and still functional water maker to replace with a different water maker?  (you can read about our reasonings here) Well, we finally did. Whew, It was a process!  But we are very excited with it.  Here is a little recap of the install project that has been keeping us busy the past few weeks:

Step 1:  Unpack and Uninstall

Like kids on Christmas, we giddily collected the six boxes containing the new Cruise RO Seamaker 20 water maker from our friend’s house (Thank you for being both our post office and storage unit!) and piled them onto the boat. Giddy slowly morphed into nervous once we no longer had room to take two steps or even sit in our boat any more.  Holy Crap, there were a lot of really BIG boxes! Are you sure we can fit this thing on board?!  We lived in a mess for a bit. At least removing the old unit was simple; 4 bolts, 3 hoses, 2 wires and one hand and it was out and onto eBay.  Buh-bye Katadyn.

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Step 2: It doesn’t fit, Oh, yes it does!

We thought we had planned out exactly where we were going to put all the parts months ago while still floating about in the Bahamas.  Only about an hour into the project we realized the membrane wasn’t going to fit where we thought it would, nor the pump.  Not because the size specifications were wrong, but we didn’t account for enough space for the hoses that had to attach.  At this point, I will be honest and say I had some serious doubts whether we could get this unit on the boat, at least without sacrificing our storage spaces, which we really couldn’t afford to do.  This was the most difficult and time-consuming part of the whole project.  We spent a lot of time- many, many day- just staring, both at the space we had to work with and the parts that needed to fit in it.  Sometimes we pulled out the tape measure and would remeasure the same spot again.  Nope, still won’t fit.  Besides physically fitting somewhere other than our storage lockers we really wanted to keep it accessible, not just the filters that need frequent maintenance, but we wanted to be able to see all the fittings and pumps just to keep an eye on things.  It was a long road, but in the end I am actually glad it didn’t fit in the original spot as I think our final installation was superior choice.  Keith made all the pieces fit, without losing storage, it’s easy to access the filters and they are in a place that’s okay when water gets sloshed when you changed them (because water always gets sloshed).  To boot,  I think it’s pretty tidy of an installation, at least for being in a workroom.  He built out two false walls to mount the control panel and filters on.  This allowed all the hoses to be neatly run behind, yet easy to get to if needed.  The pumps, the boost and power pump, were built into an awkward little nook that allows for great ventilation, easy access, and if they ever do spout a leak they won’t damage anything as they are on raised mounts and the water would just drain into the bilge.  In the end, it fit in just perfectly.

The messy “BEFORE” photo:

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The slightly less messy “AFTER” photo:

Here is what you are looking at:

 

Step 3:  Plug and Play

Once Keith figured out where all the main pieces were going to go it was time to connect them all together.  Cruise RO uses Mur-lock fittings, it was Keith’s first time using them at first he thought it looked like at lot of places to introduce potential failures and he didn’t think he’d be a fan of the push locking mechanisms, but after getting into the project he grew more confident with them- and they were easy to work with.  Note, all the high-pressure fittings are Swageloc fittings.  There were plenty of full color diagrams and photographs in the 57 page installation manual, so it what was pretty straight forward of a job.  It still took a while primarily due to cramped spaces.  When I mentioned to Keith “maybe not plug-and-play like the Katadyn,” he said “no ,it is, there is just a lot more plugging and playing”.  

Behind all those connections is the 12v boost pump and raw water strainer.

The membrane fittings.

The control panel

The back of the control panel (behind one of the false walls)

The saltwater filters and the fresh water back-flush carbon filter housings.

It’s a difficult photo, but the pumps.  The boost and high pressure. The orange line is because we just used it to pickle the membrane.

 

Step 4:  Time to  make water…..lots and lots of water……….and lots of phone calls.

The original plan had been to wait until we sailed the boat down to Fort Pierce (by the inlet with fresh ocean water) to try out the unit.  But, we were excited and slightly impatient to see it work so made a quick change of plans and we decided to fire it up in the river (I’m going to come back to that point in a minute).  We read and re-read the instructions for initial startup before finally flipping the first switch. Step one was to make sure there were no leaks in any of the fittings when the boost pump was turned on. Immediately we had water-spraying in the workroom!  Obviously there was a leak; it was easily resolved. No big deal and take-two had no more water leaks. The instructions for the process were very clear but we still had lots of questions and concerns through the process.  Things like should we be seeing bubbles in the flow meter, should the flow valve be closed all the way to achieve pressures…)  We called Cruise RO  just to confirm what we were doing.  When you call the phone is answered by Rich Boren, the guy who made the water maker and owns the company so he knows everything there is to know about it- no phone tree, no transfer, no tech guy following a flow diagram.  Just another cruiser who can answer all your questions immediately. Crazy-good refreshing customer service. We ended up calling six times, pretty much at every step we had another question.  We felt kind of ridiculous for calling so much, we were just trying really, really hard not to do anything to mess up and hurt the membrane before we got started and make sure we understood everything we were doing (I’m going to come back to that point in a minute). Rich was very patient and held our hand the whole day.

During this initial run the water being made was not being dumped into our water tanks, the point was just to get the pumps broken in and everything set so we had the outlet line just draining into the bilge.  The old water maker just made a “dribble-dribble-squirt” kind of flow so we were surprised by the hose when it started whipping around and had to be clamped down once it started making water. It was kind of like a firehose without a fireman at the end.  More water everywhere πŸ™‚ We were trying to collect it in containers and buckets because at this rate dumping it into the bilge didn’t seem smart.  Neither of us could get over how much water we were getting, not that we were calculating it (I’m going to come back to that point in a minute), but it was much more than we had envisioned!  We could barely keep up with emptying the buckets! 

Somewhere between our excitement, following the checklist, dumping buckets and buckets of fresh water,  phone calls, and trying to be so careful we overlooked one very big detail.  Thankfully Rich helped catch it for us.  On our last phone call of the day to Cruise RO Keith mentioned our high flow rate readings to Rich, who in turn immediately said we needed to  address that.  Since we were running in brackish water we needed to adjust the flow rate as to not exceed the maximum rated output to avoid damaging the membrane.  Crap.  We were running at nearly twice that!!  No wonder we couldn’t keep up with the buckets! In hindsight, in the first pages of the manual, listed as #4  of things never to do in BIG bold red print it says  “In brackish water, such as in an estuary or river, never allow the product water production flow rate to exceed the units rated output.  In such cases, simply turn down the system pressure or RO membrane damage will occur.”  In all of the excitement, we both overlooked the fact that since we didn’t go to the inlet as planned, and we were still in the river that warning did in fact apply to us now. We were so focused on the two pressure gauge readings that even though we had both briefly wondered out-loud about the flow-rate meter readings, we hadn’t done the quick math of what the reading should have been. Our mistake. We now have that noted on our checklist! Fortunately, we didn’t damage anything, and besides, it’s always good to stress test a new piece of equipment right? 

Once we got through he initial startup and got the flow adjusted for the brackish water, everything ran perfectly.  All the switches and gauges that at first seemed intimidating to me, made sense and not overly complicated at all and Keith was happy with his install.  The real treat was testing the water with the TDS meter.  We had a reading for under 200ppm, a huge improvement from the Katadyn.  We did “pickle” (preserve for non-use) the unit after we got everything running smoothly and I think we will wait until we are in clean, salty water next month to run it again.  We can’t wait to see what a difference the Cruise RO makes in our cruising comforts, safety, and cruising range.  Water, water, wat-er!

 

If you are installing or thinking of installing a water maker at some point, I’ve included a few more notes below:

DIY vs CruiseRO:

Before we made the purchase, several people commented that you can just buy all of the pieces individually and make your own water maker.  True, we didn’t see the value though.  And, now, after installing the Cruise RO we would never consider it.  For one, there are a lot of pieces.  I wouldn’t want to have to research, locate, ship, assemble them all one-by-one.  Second, with the Cruise RO all the figuring has already been done for you and written in it all out in a well-done manual.  It sounds like a small thing, but having all the warnings and reminders already laid out for you is big, and may prevent some expensive errors- even having the standard operating instructions already put together is a huge value. Finally, being able to make a phone call when something isn’t working right-or you just have a question-any day of the week is worth it alone.  We really appreciated this on our start up day! The warranty is another consideration. 

 

The CruiseRO kit:

We were very happy with the kit and units and the quality of all the parts.  Our only frustration, and it’s very basic, came in the lengths of hose provided.  Additional lengths of hose are available when you order the unit so that you can locate each part (pump, membrane, panel..) separately.  Even spacing ours as close as they are Keith was continuously running into the problem of not having enough green hose to run it where he wanted to. We would strongly recommend ordering extra hose (its cheap) even if you are installing all the parts in close proximity, it might just make it easier.  There were plenty of extra fittings left over.

 

TDS meters and ppm:

Our old unit (Katadyn powersurvivor 40e) didn’t come with a TDS (total disolved solids) meter and we later figured out why. The Katadyn considers it’s normal operating TDS values to be under 1500ppm.  The WHO (World Health Organization) sets the upper safe limit at 500ppm. Yikes! No reason to use a TDS meter when it is always in the red zone. Had we known this little fact maybe we probably would have never purchased the unit.  The RO water is our sole source of drinking and cooking water-I’d like it to be in the “safe” range. The Katadyn manual actually states to taste the water.  By the time you can taste salt in the water, it is at kidney damaging levels!!!  The CruiseRO produces water in the 200’s range and states to call the company if levels reach 500-it is an indication that something is wrong.  We were thrilled to test our first run at under 200ppm. 

 

Specifics on our install:

First, if you are interested in the specifics about the unit we installed, you can check them all out on the Cruise RO website.  

We Googled to see how other people had installed their units when we were in the designing stages.  Each boat is so different that I am not sure it is helpful to include too many details about our install, but here are a few more specifics in case you are doing the same that may help:

Dedicated through-hull:

We called Rich to ask if the Cruise RO needed it’s own dedicated through-hull as we knew some other manufactures will consider the warranty voided if it is not provided its own.  It is not required for the Cruise RO BUT…. Rich explained the needs and even has a YouTube video addressing this question.  We have ours Tee-d into the head intake, just like he has his.  This saved us a haul out and another hole in the boat.

Water tanks:

We have integrated fiberglass tanks that I have never felt comfortable drinking from, they have been sealed  with an unidentified coating so we use that water only for bathing.  With our old RO system, we just used three 2.5 gallon jugs and filled them up directly from the water maker.  It took almost 2 hours to fill each jug.  With the new unit they would be filled up in just minutes so we needed a new process to collect and hold the RO water or we were going to be kept very busy while the unit was running.  To solve this, we installed a third water tank.  It is fed directly by the water maker and is higher than our main tanks.  When it fills up, it then starts to flow into the main tanks by gravity (we don’t have to do a thing).  This new small tank, which is in the galley, has a spout for filling our water jugs for drinking and cooking.  That part of the system still works well for us so we are keeping it.  The additional perk to having the third tank is that the back-flush of the membrane uses water from this tank instead of the main tanks.  The membrane is sensitive to bleach and this water will have never been treated- it still goes through the required charcoal filter. It sounds complex, but it actually simplified things for us.  The main thing was to make sure everything was properly vented as backpressure will damage the unit.

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Sewing Smashup (Part 1)

 

Just before we left Florida in October I placed a seemingly mishmash order from Sailrite for all of the items I was missing in order complete my outstanding list of sewing projects. One more zipper, a different sized snap, a few more yards of fabric…. I was confident now that I had all my supplies,  I’d for-sure get my projects done.  Silly me, even with the number of weather days we’ve had I haven’t made it through my list. Most of my to-do items have to do with shade and ventilation, something that has not been a concern of mine it the last few months, and so they are still to be done.  But I did get a few done—YAY!  ….and now that I’ve got the momentum going…watch out!

Cockpit Beanbags:

 

Our cockpit has a few ergonomic challenges and since we spend so much time sitting/lounging/napping there I made us a set of beanbag wedges.  Wa-la  instant comfort.  I used Sunbrella so they can just stay outside (and stay clean).    They are excellent for wedging yourself into a comfy spot when on a rolly passage or finding just the perfect angle for reading a book. Only I should have made three; Kai likes them too.

**I learned from the last beanbags I made that the beans get compressed and they have to be occasionally refilled so this time I added YKK Zippers and just put a stitch through the slider to keep them from accidently opening.

 

Seatbelts for the Jerry Cans:

We have a lot of jerry cans on the deck and we found that we were not always very diligent with retying them to the rails every time we used them so we’ve lost more than a few sun covers and occasionally had the cans go sliding across the deck during a squall. (Not so shipshape of a situation) To make it easier and quicker to keep everything lashed in place all the time I made webbing straps with buckles.  Since making them all their very own seatbelts we haven’t lost a cover or can.  We will still lash them with rope for any crossings, but we always double everything up then anyway.  On the same theme, I made two straps on the stern rail to clip up the davit lines.  We use these a couple times a day and it just makes it faster and easier, I guess neither of us were speedy knot tiers because now the lines are always secured. 55 cent buckles that hold up to the sun, gotta love the little things!

**I used the polyester UV resistant webbing

 

New Zipper for Wetsuit:

One of my wetsuit tops came with a metal zipper slider and since we don’t have the luxury of washing our dive gear down with freshwater after each use, it corroded out. A new YKK plastic zipper—and all is new!

 

Puppy Proof Fish Hooks:

Our little Kayla (our previous pup) once got a fish hook in her mouth, it is an experience that I would like to never repeat.  Kai has an understandable obsession with the lures on Keith’s fishing poles and though we store them where he could never reach them, I though it would be safer for him, and maybe us, to have safety covers for the hooks.  A scrap of fabric and a strip of Velcro was an easy solution.

 

Multi-talented Sailrite:

I love my Sailrite, it does the tough stuff like stitching the double layer leather chafing patches on the bimini extension or sewing through the outdoor carpet strips used to protect the enclosure glass.  But it also does the delicate stuff-like dinner napkins.  We don’t use paper napkins on the boat but the cloth ones I had were looking a little worn out and stained so I made us a few more sets with some remnant material.  While I had out the remnants bag, I stitched together a few new toys for Kai; they don’t have pet stores out here and while I had a big stash of toys for him before we left, he has gone through them all already.

**Just a note to other cruisers/to-be cruisers: While in George Town we heard several cruisers asking over the VHF radio if there was anyone with a Sailrite Machine they could borrow. Sorry, I did not let my precious machine go for a dinghy ride across the harbor in someone else’s boat.  I also heard almost as many calls for people needing needles because they had used their last one.  So, if you are headed out and have a Sailrite onboard, I’d suggest ordering several extra packets of needles of different sizes and different weight threads (you never know-you might want to make something other than sails too).  The machine is amazing, but it doesn’t do a thing without thread and needles.

It’s Hard To Admit You Made a Mistake

It’s hard to admit you made a mistake, especially an expensive one, but we did and here is our admission….

We chose the wrong water maker.  It was one of the most expensive pieces of equipment we added and had done months of researching before selecting one, but we still got it wrong. So wrong that we are removing our perfectly good operating unit that is only a season old and spending what is, to us, several months worth of cruising budget to buy a different unit. At the moment the new unit is sitting in Florida waiting for us.  I generally don’t have the interest or energy to do much technical writing on this blog but I know we were not alone in the flaws of reason that led us to make the wrong decision in the first place so for any one else in the process of selection a water maker I want to share our original thought processes and discoveries.  Hope it helps.

First, a quick backtrack.  We had narrowed our choices down to two very different units when we first started this search: the Katadyn PUR 40e and Rich Boren’s Cruise RO Seamaker20.  Besides turning sea water into drinking water, the units are almost like comparing starfish to puffer fish. In very brief summary the Katadyn unit is teeny-tiny (about the size of a shoebox), runs off 12v (4.5amps), and is simple (nothing more than an on/off switch).  It makes a little more than ONE gallon an hour.  The Cruise RO unit is robust (our shipping receipts says it came in six different boxes), runs off AC (Honda generator), and is more complex in that pressures and outflow may be adjusted (and monitored).  It makes a little more than TWENTY gallons an hour. (There are also Cruise RO units that make over 30, even 40 gallons per hour!)  Note, we know there are other 12v units out there that are more efficient and had higher outputs than the Katadyn-but out of our price range, and, there are other AC units out there besides the Cruise RO- but the quality of materials excluded them from our consideration.  So, for us, we narrowed it down to these two units; the Katadyn and the Cruise RO.

Here is how we rationalized the differences between the units originally and our reflections after one year of cruising. The most obvious difference between the water makers being, one-plus gallons vs. twenty-plus gallons per hour.  While it seems obvious which one is the winner here,  we honestly believed that we just needed enough RO water for drinking and cooking. More water could never be a bad thing, admittedly, we just didn’t rate it as the highest priority in the selection process.  We assumed we would either collect rain water or purchase water for our showering and other water needs.  We have separate tanks for these uses.  In reality, the Katadyn has done exactly what we’ve asked of it, it does provide enough water for cooking and drinking, but nothing more.   We’ve also come to realize (admit)  that we still desire more fresh water.  Collecting rain water in the winter just doesn’t happen (its rained once in the last six months) and lugging very heavy jugs of water in the dinghy from shore is not so fun.  More than that, we would like to have more water supply to do things like wash gear, the deck, the windows, clothes, the salty dog, ourselves. Sometimes an extra long shower would be a real treat and currently the rate it takes to make a glass full of water with the Katadyn compared to the rate it takes to flow from our faucets is very, very imbalanced. 

The next most obvious difference to contend with is the power source, 12V vs. AC.  This is where we got hung up.  We crave redundancy on this boat, and this is where the Katadyn unit shined for us originally.  In theory we would just run it off of solar alone but the engine or even the Honda generator could power it if needed too.  Hell, it even came with a hand pump if we things got that bad.  Multiple sources of power-this was originally a higher priority than the output.  Our original biggest concern with the Cruise RO system was that if the Honda Generator broke we would have no way of running the water maker.  We voiced this concern with Rich Boren, the owner of Cruise RO and a fellow cruiser, and his answer was so swift and assured.  He said,  “If my Honda broke, I’d be fixing or replacing it ASAP”.  I wish we had truly understood that response at the time.  In reality, our solar panels do not provide us enough power to run the water maker.  This is not a fault of the water maker, but a limitation of our current solar array.  But, what this means is we pull out and start up the Honda generator almost every single time we run the water maker.  Now, if we are having to run the generator anyway—those extra 19 gallons every hour that we are NOT making start to get missed!  Do you know what I could do with an extra 19 gallons of water– every hour?  It only took us about three or four months of cruising for us to start admitting that we should have gone with the Cruise RO unit (another eight or nine to do something about it).  And now we understand- if our Honda generator broke, we’d be fixing it or replacing it and for more reasons than just a water maker. And besides, if it ever came down to this, we learned the Cruise RO system can be pickled under 12V power so no risk of damaging a membrane, a concern that we got so stuck on in our original decision making process.

A few factors have not changed for us since we began researching which unit to buy, primarily quality of materials and size of unit.  We were always more impressed with the quality of materials used in the Cruise RO unit than any other from the start.  The high pressure Stainless steel pump head and body, along with several other components, come with a full lifetime warranty.  ALL parts are non-proprietary, meaning everything from the membrane, fittings, and chemicals can be found all over the world.  We also always agreed that the service and warranty of the Cruise RO system was easily the most reassuring we had found in the industry.  While our Katadyn has functioned adequately and we cannot fault it we did have to completely rebuild it already, after only 300 hours of use, and have found that this seems to be pretty standard amongst everyone we have talked to who owns one.  Meh.  As far a size goes,  the tiny 12V unit couldn’t have been any better.  Of course I suppose something that makes 20x the amount of water is going to take up a significant more amount of space.  Here it comes back to a priority thing and “more water” has moved up the ladder.  The nice thing is that the Cruise RO system can be installed modularly.  Meaning each piece can be installed in a different location as needed. I.e., the membrane in one location, the pump in another, the control panel in yet another.  This should make fitting it into our tiny, odd shaped spaces a LOT easier.  (We will let you know- we are eager to start installing it as soon as we get back to Florida will do a post on the installation process).

I see a lot of very clean, un-salty things in our near future πŸ™‚

(Photo from Cruise RO website as our unit is sitting in boxes in Florida waiting on us to pick it up still) 

Not Our Day to Paint

We have been in the yard for just over four weeks, too bad my patience for being in the yard barely lasted three weeks! 

I was all gung-ho at first and in true-to-our-style fashion we ripped into ALL the projects at once. We are not the “finish one project before you start another” kind of couple. The aft cabin (our bedroom) was yanked apart to pull off the rudder, the paint was sanded off the hull, the galley cabinets and countertop were ripped out for the update, the workroom rearranged for the new battery charger wiring…..  Basically we made a mess of all our living areas all while ensuring that we wouldn’t be able to just skip out on some of the projects.  The gung-ho-ness, however, quickly faded in the Florida heat.  That, and something about the climbing down a ladder, playing labyrinth in the suck-your-shoe-off mud puddles, navigating two temperamental locked gates, and crossing the street all because you have to pee in the middle of the night “might” have played a part.

The final kicker, though, was the paint job.   The paint project on the hull has been a doozy because of the super hot temps that kick the paint off before we even have a chance to put it on.  The fact that it rained on our fresh paint two separate times didn’t help either.  Then of course there was the tractor running around dragging a grater behind it trying to level out the fore mentioned puddle mess creating clouds of gritty dust and do I need even need to mention the neighbor, who hasn’t touched his boat since we’ve been here, who pulled out the belt sander for his bottom paint as we try to paint right next to him! Aghhhh! We gave up on trying to get an acceptable finish after a low, low moment when we were both thinking (and admitting out loud) that being at work sounded more fun than what we were doing.  Instead of trying yet another coat of paint, I sanded out all the roller marks, dirt, and bugs (did I forget to mention the love bugs came out -they love wet paint).  I then wet-sanded the entire boat three times with increasing grits.  Yes, by hand.  Up and down scaffolding a gabazillion times or at least it felt like it.  After all that work and a very sore shoulder the end result resembles thin, faded gelcoat, the kind in need of a paint job. I burnt through too many areas of paint.  At least it doesn’t look like a kindergarten class painted it anymore.  We will revisit the paint job again on the next haul-out.  For now we are done with it.  Well, after it gets waxed.

Enough whining……we do have good stuff is going on as well.

For starters, Keith has fixed our rudder issue. BIG YAY!!! I had planned on doing a whole post on the rudder work, that was back in my gung-ho phase. In stead here is the quick and dirty version: the bottom part of the rudder had too much play and the top part of the rudder wasn’t secured beefily enough to prevent the play resulting in the offending clunking sound.  So, the bottom part got reamed out and sheaved and the top part got a new fancy bearing put in.  No more clunking!  It sounds so simple but it really was a bit involved.  The whole process was slowed by the fact that we gave the lower gudgeon piece to a well known local machinist who said he could do the job in a few days.  Then he’d have it by next weekend.  Then the following week.   Then no answer by phone.  Then he calls and says he is coming by to drop off our part, he doesn’t have time for it….and this is why we do things ourselves!  Keith got the part back and had it finished up by lunchtime the following day.  The part, not the project.  It feels good to have the clunking issue resolved!

^^ removing the ill-fitting gudgeon.

^^ a plan comes together.

^^hole in gudgeon reamed out and a new bushing ready to be pressed in.  This is the part that clunked. Not any more!

^^gudgeon removed. It wasn’t that easy to get off and definitely was not that easy to put back on.

^^ new big bearing and mounting bracket.  

And on with more good stuff, I have a leak-proof galley countertop.  Believe me, YAY!  The plan had been to add a double sink and a Corian countertop and remove the top-loading storage cubby that kept getting filled up with water from drippy dishes.  When it quickly became apparent  that this mini renovation was going to cost the same as several months worth of cruising, I settled for the most important item on the list which was sealing the countertop up. I’m quite happy with the update.  I even like the new paint color, which was lucky since only Keith has a mode of transportation (I DO NOT ride the scooter) and I had asked for all the creamy, off-white, beige, light yellow paint chips the store had so I could pick out a color.  I got about eight contenders to choose from πŸ™‚

Keith also got a slew of miscellaneous projects done in between the big ones.  A new battery charger, some engine alarms, tightened the loose pedestal….  You know, boat projects.  We’ve also had time to spend with friends, thank goodness! As much as I am completely over being in the yard, I have to admit it is nice to be already strapped securely to the earth during hurricane season, quiet or not, so we plan on finishing up the to do list and reprovision while here and plan on being back in the water and cruising again in two weeks.

 

Catch-up

We got to Florida over two weeks ago and apparently I forgot that, A, I owned a camera and, B, was trying to document our journey by blog.  Whoopsie!  

So, for the emails we’ve gotten wondering where we are and what happened-we are good, we are in Florida.  

Here is a mini catch-up:

BATTERIES RECHARGED

Our first week back was a wonderful whirlwind of social meet-ups.  And it was apparently exactly what our personal batteries were in need of to get all charged up πŸ™‚  We had friends come out and anchor near us, several friends hosted us for some seriously delicious dinners and fun evenings, we lunched out with family, cooked fish-n-conch on our boat, and simply chilled out and caught up with everyone we had missed.  It was SO good to see everyone!

HOODLUM LIFE

We had anchored right in front of our old marina and had planned on staying there for two or three weeks before heading to the work yard to be hauled out, but besides having fun with friends we found that our old neighborhood isn’t that easy to navigate while on anchor.  Sadly, I’ll have to report that Satellite Beach isn’t a cruiser-friendly town.  None of the marinas will let you tie up a dinghy and while there is a public park called Paddles and Oars complete with a beautiful floating dock, you can’t tie up your row-boat there either.  Again, friends came to the rescue to solve this dilemma.  

Here is a funny:  Keith found a place for the dinghy and walked to our old 7-11 (the one we used to frequent multiple times a day) to buy beer and Diet Coke, because of course we are now back in the land of affordable beer and soda and we can.  The cashier carded him and he didn’t have his ID. (Keith is in his fourties)  No beer. He walked to the next store, and  while he did buy his beer, they were out of Diet Coke.  He walked back to the same 7-11 (with his getting-hot beer) and bought my soda and then had to walk back to the dinghy lugging two twelve-packs.  Beer and soda, they might be cheaper here but not necessarily more accessible!

In search of wifi (and air conditioning) we sailed across the river to the Melbourne Library a couple times, which has a wonderful public dock that you can tie your dinghy to.  There,  we found that we weren’t the only hoodlums waiting in line for the library to open for reasons other than checking out a book. πŸ˜‰   Our unemployed, transient-living, back-pack toting selves mingled with our like. One fellow even welcomed us “to the hood” using language that won’t make it to print here.  Keith reassured me that it was a term of endearment. Uh-huh.

It was weird being in the same neighborhood, but seeing it from the perspective of pedestrian.  The laundry mat and Publix Grocery don’t seem quite so close anymore!  That, and brown river water still isn’t our thing-yuck.  So, after only a week we were ready to get going on our boat projects and sailed up to Port Canaveral to get hauled out.  I do like being transient.  Just go when you are ready to go.

^^this was taken from the library, that is our boat anchored by the end of the pier and a squall that blew through 

 

THE FIRST 48

This isn’t our first rodeo, we’ve been in a boat yard before.  The first 48 hours after being hauled out always looks the same.  Elaborate efforts are made to keep the dirt and sand off and out of the boat (I’ve got quite the mud room going on at the base of our ladder), neighbors are checked out (our neighbor is living under a tarp and drives a BMW-curious), and new plumbing arrangements are secured (toilet doesn’t work without sea water).  The first 48 hours is also when that carefully typed out project list/time line always dissolves (usually, and without exception this time, in a fit of tears).  No worries, it was a short fit and problem has already been resolved by simply deciding not to resolve it.  What was the problem? I washed the paint off the deck.  Not the dirt off the paint, the paint off the deck.  Seems there was a prep issue with a section of our last coat and for a short, short minute stripping and repainting the deck was added to the list.  Hence the fit of tears.  Oh, and the rental of a storage locker to clear everything off the deck in order to proceed.  Then we agreed that the coat underneath is already the same color so we will let the failing paint job do its thing on its own, we will tackle that job at a later date.  Order and sanity restored and focus redirected back to the real issue, the rudder. That will get a post of its own soon.

BEEP BEEP

Maybe we just haven’t been cruisers long enough, but we miss a set of wheels and even though we have had an overwhelming amount of genuine offers for rides and loaner vehicles, we decided to get something of our own again for while we are here.  Enter: Craigslist.   We ruled out a car as that would require getting insurance and we only plan on having it about 6 weeks max and motorcycles didn’t fit the budget leaving us searching for a scooter.  By the end of the day Keith had scored a zippy little Yamaha Zuma scooter. For $450.00 it came with 10,000 miles, a flat front and back tire, busted fender, broken tail light, and a burnt out headlight.  But it ran great! Another $102.00 for parts and repairs and Keith was zooming along at a wind-whipping 35 mph! Beep-Beep. Now, hopefully, we can throw it back up on Craigslist when we are ready to leave and recoupe most of the cash, making it a cheaper than a rental.  That is the plan at least. For now, no more long walks for beer and soda.

 

That’s our current status in a nut shell.  

So how many of you read that and are making mental bets of how long we will be here? 

(I assure you, we will be in the water and ready to head back to the Bahamas by October first, don’t let the storage unit rental and vehicle purchase fool you!)

 

Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

When we moved aboard well over a year ago we decided not to get a storage unit.  I was good with that, but what to do with all of the stuff that didn’t really belong stowed on the boat but might handy to complete something on the to-do list before we departed?  Shoved into my SUV, that’s  what.  I filled it to the roof with things I just couldn’t part with, but knew had no place on board.  Literally to the roof, I don’t know how I haven’t run someone over backing up and I certainly haven’t gone through a single drive-thru without feeling the judgment of being a full-blown hoarder these last months.  The contents are mostly “supplies” for projects and the thought was they would get consumed as the to-do list dwindled.  Among my hoard of supplies I was lugging around several random pieces of teak; the old dodger, bimini, and sailcovers; a bag of styrofoam beans for the beanbags; and lots of odd pieces of foam, batting, and fabric scraps.  Not much has gotten consumed and my car still only had room for only me-no passengers. With the fact that we are quickly approaching the day where I need to sell my car I had to get busy clearing it out one way or another so I started recycling, reusing, and eventually reducing the hoard in my car.

First project was to use some of the teak and build a book shelf in the aft cabin.  Oddly, we didn’t have a single shelf in the boat that would  hold a full size reference book or guide book and I thought it was finally time to remedy that.  The finishing work is still in progress, but the books are on. I think it’s pretty good for only using recycled wood. A rope cleated to the bulkhead will keep things in place.

 

Next was to salvage as much canvas as possible from the old dodger and bimini.  I made two storage bags for the dinghy, one is for the anchor and line and the other is for our snorkle gear.  They snap on to the handles and keep the dinghy floor uncluttered yet remove easily.  I think they are going to work well, but didn’t put too much effort into the craftsmanship as I am considering them my prototypes.  I’m sure the second generation might have some modifications.  

Moving on, it was time to give Kai a place of his own in the dinghy.  He is too little to stand on the floor and see out and doesn’t have the sea legs to stand on the tubes which means he usually ends up sitting in my lap, which is fine now but someday soon he will be all sandy and salty and I probably won’t think it’s so fine anymore.  Enter Kai’s bucket.  Now he gets front row action while sitting/standing securely in the dinghy.  We tried it out already and he seems thrilled with his booster seat :). Bonus, when he isn’t in the dinghy with us the canvas will also hold our 5 gallon look-bucket for diving or anything else we don’t want sloshing around on the floor.  Note: the photo of the new dinghy organizers is pittyful, but there will be plenty of dinghy photos in the near future-you know when it becomes our only vehicle πŸ™‚ 

With plenty of old Sunbrella left I moved out of the dinghy and up to the mother boat and made what I think will be a great add-on to the bimini/enclosure setup in place.  The bimini ends just before the cockpit does due to the main sheet so when it rains the cockpit (and cushions) get very soaked if the enclosure panels aren’t in place which they frequently aren’t in place because it makes the cockpit a steamy greenhouse when all closed up. To keep the cockpit drier and shadier I made two little pieces that zip right onto the bimini with grommets on the back.  Super simple, yet very effective. I like how well they follow the curvature of the bimini on the grommet side.  Yeah for shade!  I’m liking these recycling (completely free) projects!

The bag ‘o beans was used to make Kai a bean bag bed and our cockpit bean bag wedges were fluffed up.  I even filled up one of my handmade bead embroidered pillow covers for some outdoor-friendly whimsy in the cockpit. (It’s a leafy seadragon-it’s hard to tell in the photo). With those complete, I had one more bulky item out of the car, I can almost see the backseat now.

I used up some small scraps of fabric to make a canvas water bucket.  Canvas water buckets come in handy when you have to rinse the deck off due to a little pup having been trained that it is OK to do his business there.  Our last one wore out.  I added a tag with glass marbles on one side of the bucket so that it tips and fills with water easily.