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) 

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Resignation

It became official this morning.  We are going cruising!

Keith resigned.

We are about to do what we have been saying we were going to do for the last twenty years.  Its our time.

You might think that tonight would be filled with shouts of joy, congratulatory cheers, and champagne but I think Keith summed up the mood tonight best when he tiredly muttered “I hope we like it”.

If you know us, or maybe can tell just from following us, this was by far the hardest and most stressed-over part of this whole big plan.  Keith had worked hard for and was gifted with an amazing career opportunity, probably like no other he will have again.  He had a boss, a company, benefits, and a future that left little room for wanting.  It was not, and I can tell by his tired eyes is still not, any easy thing for him to walk away from.  We just traded security, comfort, and social expectations for a shot at living our biggest, wildest life-long dream. It’s a sobering moment.

I share this because as we have been going through this and have shared our trepidations with other cruisers and to-be cruisers we have found that almost all have had to make some hard decisions.  True sacrifices.  Wether it is a gorgeous grow-old-in home that has to go on the market, leaving close family behind, or shunning the security of a career, compromises almost certainly have to be made for this lifestyle.  From a distance the act of casting off the lines and sailing out into the horizon seems so care-free and romantic, but like most things, when you get up real close…

Curiously, we found that younger (and still working) people almost always advised us to stay and keep working while older (and retired) people almost always encouraged us to make the leap-now.  I hope the older (but still working) future us, will agree with the decisions made today πŸ™‚

So why?  Why are we willing to take this chance?  

Because we want to make more memories like these: 

These are the moments, however poorly photographed, that we were truly living life to it’s fullest.  

It’s time for us to make more memories (because goodness knows we won’t be making anymore money)

^^a beer, a grill, and the most beautiful place on earth.

^^oh, and a fish to go on that grill

^^diving, sharks, birthdays, rum, and friends-a good day.

^^this photo and associated memories is probably worth a post of its own, but the short of it is “best dinner of our lives”. 

^^our friend: *picks up a handful of pellets from the ground

“Look, someone must be feeding the hutia”

Keith: “um, that’s not their food

Never did see a hutia, just lots of hutia poo

^^fileting a fish at the “pools” at Double-Breasted -outdoor kitchen at its best.

^^the customs shack.  Welcome to the Bahamas!

^^raising the courtesy flag after visiting the customs shack-always a big moment.

^^there is always room for one more in the cockpit 

^^you can’t fake a smile that genuine (or relaxed)

^^the cure for anything is saltwater…..

^^the afternoon routine.  This is what you do without AC.

^^dinner-probably from our super secret sea-fan spot 

^^the conundrum of the day “grill” or “fry”

^^sweet little mutton snapper came from a day that was too choppy to dive our usual spots.  What an unexpected and tasty surprise.  Sometimes things just work out better than expected.

^^the commute home

^^ breakfast with buddies. Note Keith diving into that Bahama bread.

^^Double-Breasted. Again. Just because it’s our little spot.  You’ve got to admit the view from the backyard is pretty sweet.

^^everyone else got icecream, Keith got fresh baked bread

^^and someone to share it all with-that’s what really counts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Dear Next Owner Of Our Boat,

If you have ever owned an only-new-to-you boat, then you have probably come across an “improvement” or repair done by the previous owner(s) that left you scratching your head.  At least every one of our boats has given this joyous opportunity.  Sometimes it’s a simple “I wonder why they did that?” situation, and sometimes it’s a “Why in the world would you do that!!” situation.  Note:  Those two statements, though they sound similar, are very, very different.  One is the cousin of “huh?”, the other is the cousin of “WTF” (and usually involves an unexpected cost of some sort).  

This boat has had plenty of both.  Huh, I wonder why  that shelf has that odd cut out?  WTF, why in the world would you glue foam-backed vinyl in the shower!

Well, dearest next owner of our beloved boat, I need to explain a few improvements I made this week that I am quite sure will make no sense to you.  You see that access hatch in the coaming of the cockpit? Yeah, go ahead and open it up.  No, it’s not a storage locker. Yeah, it’s weird, it’s just an opening to an even smaller hole. It goes to the head (bathroom).  No, it’s not some icky peep-hole.  It’s for the running hot shower water.  Yep, you hang the solar shower up there on the dodger frame, drop the nozzle into that hole, and take a warm running water shower down in the privacy of the head.  Yeah, as opposed to the deck.  You know, for when it’s cold and rainy or if you are in a crowded anchorage. No, there is no hot water heater onboard, solar showers only.  Yes, you can add a hot water heater yourself.  Why two different size holes in the boat?  Oh, yeah, I don’t know.  The previous owner drilled the big one.  I don’t know why, it didn’t go anywhere. Had to drill a smaller hole to fit in the head.  Now, um, the other thing…eventually you would have found it, but let me show you. There is a tiny black switch about the size of a penny when you open the pantry door.  Yeah, in there.  Now run your had along the forward facing cabinet.  Found it?  Keep feeling around, it’s in there.  Got it?  That is the switch for the exhaust fan.  Where?  Oh, that tiny vent above the stove exhausts into the cockpit locker.  Yeah, yeah, that’s probably why you thought the winch handles smelled like bacon.

On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t explain my actionsπŸ˜•

Solar_shower_hole.JPG

 

Oh, and to clarify, the boat is not for sale. I am just acknowledging that I too am guilty of being a quirky “previous owner”. 

ON/OFF

A lot has gotten done around here, and a lot still seems to need to get done as well.  Of course. 

Here is an abbreviated status of the To-do list as it stands now.

DECK, SAILING, ANCHORING, NAVIGATION, SAFETY


ON the list:

  • Install new cleats on bow for anchoring (in progress)
  • Replace traveler and mainsheet (ordered-still waiting on delivery)
  • Replace Genoa cars (ordered-still waiting on delivery)
  • Fix leak(s?) along toe rail (I am dreading this task)
  • Finish painting cockpit (SO, SO, close to being done!)
  • Seal teak in cockpit and put on another coat of varnish on coaming (perpetually on the “on” list)
  • Strengthen large outboard motor mount
  • Install windvane, lightning disapator, radar reflector, flag halyard (sounds like a lot but just one trip up the mast)
  • Paint depths on anchor rode
  • Treat Sunbrella with waterproofing and switch out snaps on enclosure to twist-locks, Polish windows
  • Sew rainproof wind chute for aft hatch (still stumped on design details)
  • Splice mizzen halyard snatch hook
  • Patch mizzen sail chafe points
  • Run jacklines
  • Pack abandon ship bag
OFF the list:
  • CHAINPLATES ARE FINALLY DONE -YAY!!
  • All Mizzen rigging replaced
  • Mizzen Lightning disapator installed
  • Deck repainted (that project got away from me-ugh)
  • Dorade vents painted
  • Re-caulked teak in cockpit
  • Paddleboards stowed (chocks, covers, and tie-down straps)
  • “Soft dock-box” made for second dinghy, life jackets, hose, and other junk
  • Outboard motor lift installed (life just got much easier with this one!)
  • Phifertex/sunbrella covers over all hatches (they will hopefully keep us cooler)
  • Cockpit cushions 
  • New diesel Jerry-cans
  • New ipad with gps for backup chartplotter
  • SSB channels programmed 
INTERIOR, COSMETICS, PROPANE, WATER, COMFORTS, ENGINE, POWER, ELECTRICAL
 
ON the list:
  • Install exhaust fan in galley (final design finally nailed down-just gotta do it)
  • Wire in new fans, including one for Kai; wire second galley light; wire 12v sockets (almost done with all of these)
  • Add opening port in head (started)
  • Fasten down everything to keep from falling, slamming, crashing, and breaking (NOT almost done according to last weekends sail) 
  • Set up solar shower system, and buy solar shower bags
  • Order spare exhaust parts
  • Finish engine spare part order (almost complete)
  • Add off switch to high-water alarm (it’s really loud-hard NOT to panic if it’s going off)
  • Order spare toilet pumps and rebuild kits (this was crossed off, but we’ve already used most of them up) Yuck.

OFF the list:

  • Add shelf/drawers in galley cabinet
  • Move all heavy spare gear from stern to bow (and from port side to starboard side) why are we still listing?!
  • Strip companionway and stairs, revarnish, add non-skid
  • Revarnished all floor boards
  • Replace battery bank 
  • Install Victron battery monitor
  • Replace exhaust elbow
  • Made plastic mesh screens around all bilge pumps to protect the motors from dog hair
 
 
 LOGISTICS AND CRUISING ESSENTIALS

ON the list:
  • KEITH-resign 
  • Kai’s Bahama import license (we did our part, waiting on the govt. to do their part)
  • Buy new snorkle gear and spear bands
  • Last set of vaccine shots for Keith
  • Renew passports (we did our part, waiting on the govt. to do their part)
  • Sell cars
  • Provisioning
  • Check out of this crappy marina

OFF the list:

  • Swapped folding bike for TWO folding bikes and made storage brackets for them in workshop
  • Dental work complete for Deborah
  • Vertigo resolved for Keith
  • Fishing gear (still needs to be organized better)
  • Sailing more regularly- to find and work out kinks (kind of on-going)
 
You see, we are getting there.  I also know that some of these items might still be on the list when we depart.  Not many of them are deal-breakers.  Except maybe the passports.  Those are probably pretty important to get done πŸ™‚
 
 
 

2015

Exactly two years ago I started this little blog.  At that time we were just a few months from sailing into the horizon and wanted to capture the last of the preparations and get into the habit of journaling so that I would be all ready to record our adventure in the upcoming new year.  But plans evolved, as plans always do, and as the year went on our little planned adventure morphed from a one-year sabbatical to a 4-5 year cruising lifestyle transition, or what ever you want to call it, and the departure date was pushed back a year to adjust (you know, to save more money).

Then, exactly one year ago I wrote about our “one resolution”.  Yep, 2014 was the year we were sailing off into the horizon and beginning our even bigger grand adventure.  But plans got shot to shit, as plans always do, and Keith was promoted to president of his company just weeks before he was about to resign.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity for him and we took it-for just a little while (you know, to save some more money).

Now, here today I refuse to make a single New Years resolution because plans….well, plans….we are struggling with them right now. Lately, they have been changing on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.  This week alone our departure date has ranged from three months to three years from now (you know, maybe we should save some more money while it’s coming in).

I reread this post so far and I hear frustration and disappointment in my words, yet that’s not how I am feeling at the moment, I just don’t know how to capture the right tone in my writing.  An author I am not.  So to clarify, we are happy, content, and grateful to have the opportunity to choose between good and great things.  Zero complaints.  It just means, and the whole point of this post is, we haven’t pinned down our plans for 2015.  I think we are sailing off into the horizon this spring, at least that was the plan just a few hours ago!  I swear, it’s really like playing a never-ending game of Whack-a-Mole, with the mole being our cruising plans.  The only real plan is just to keep saying “yes” to the opportunities in front of us.  2014, you have been mind-blowingly incredible-Thank You!  2015, I am looking forward to you too, whatever you may bring!  Happy New Year!!

Oh, and back to this little blog for a minute since it is it’s birthday, it was created to capture our cruising memories for ourselves and as of late I have wondered if I should just put it on hold until we have actually left the dock. It was never really meant for an audience and we don’t feel, or want to feel, the pressure to be accountable for the plans we have written here.  We’ve been pretty candid on the evolution of our cruising plans, but still, this may not be the best place to work out the details since not everybody in our (Keith’s) life even knows about about this mad little scheme.  (And those that do probably think to themselves “OMG, just GO already, we are tired of hearing about your trip!”) On the other hand, I enjoy this blog hugely for the people it has connected me with over the past two years.  (Some of whom have also had their cruising plans take wildly unexpected turns, while others have demonstrated the amazing ability to execute their said plans, others just along for the sail- I enjoy them all) Because of that, 2015 will still include a little blog about this little couple and their little plan to sail off into the horizon. Besides,  we have a handful of really “boaty” projects that are just one step away from being crossed off the ever present todo list and I am kind of excited to post them soon because the plan to sail off into the horizon has never been in question-only the when and for how long has been up for discussion.  

 

Happy New Year from us to you!