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Except for the calendar January 1, 2019 seems just like December 31, 2018. It’s better than January 1, 2018 when the temperature in the morning was down into the upper 30s here in Bradenton Beach, Florida, anchorage. The temperature today is expected to get up into the upper 70s!
The Venture 22 foot sailboat I call home was never meant to be a “liveaboard.” At best, the designer saw it as a daysailer capable of taking a very compatible couple for an occasional gunkholing weekend. Literally thousands of them were built. The reasons why I live aboard the boat full time at anchor has nothing to do with today’s story.
The boat I bought is over 30 years old and, like all boats it had problems with leaks. Fortunately NOT leaks in the hull since there are no through-hull fittings like sea cocks. But there were leaks where the chain plates pierced the cabin top. Those were easily taken care of with the judicious application of caulking.
The most serious offender was the sliding hatch at the entrance to the cabin from the cockpit. Rainwater would seep underneath the flange at the rear of the hatch and, when closed up, as one must do when it rains, water would find its way to into the cabin and drip down onto the cushions I sleep on.
In the last year and a half I’ve tried several different ways to thwart the problem. The most successful was covering the entire pop up top (a device to provide standing headroom which I don’t employ.) with plastic sheeting, generically known as “Visqueen” to boat yard workers, and fasten it down with duct tape. It worked, but cosmetically it looked like crap and the Visqueen had to be replaced every couple of months as the sun’s ultraviolet rays degraded it.
After endless hours of contemplation sitting in the cockpit I think I’ve finally got it conquered!
I bought four 1”X4” boards. On edge they give nearly an inch of clearance for the hatch to slide beneath. After cutting three of them to size I screwed them to the teak rails the sliding hatch rides under. I needed a piece of plywood to cover the area, but
Since I depend on buses for transportation I’m limited in what I can carry at one time. So at first I covered it with Visqueen. It worked fine proven by the hours of hard, pounding rain we got last week.
I went to Home Depot the day before Christmas and got them to cut me a piece of ½” plywood a bit oversized for the gap. When I got it screwed down I discovered that I should have coughed up a couple of more bucks and gotten a ¾” piece as what I’d purchased sagged down and lay on top of the hatch.
But someone whose resourceful Yankee roots extend as far back as 1630 the solution was close at hand. I had a six foot piece of that 1X4 board left so I cut it down to the width of the gap, laid it on end and glued and screwed it to the plywood. You’re not going to get THAT to bow. So now there’s a ½” space between the top of the hatch and the bottom of the plywood cover. Just need a little caulking to make sure there’s no intrusion and a bit of paint to make it look nice and I’m done. Those black patches are the hard part of Velcro. They work great for grabbing ahold of mosquito netting when you need it. Just touch the netting to the spot and it sticks.
The final touch, though, was to fasten the solar panel to the new top. It had simply been laying on deck before though secured to the mast step with a cable lock to prevent theft. Now it won’t blow away or be rocked off the deck into the water. Came close to that once before, though.
In all it took me about an entire eight hour working day to get it built. The problem is, when you’re an old duffer with serious COPD things take longer. Tasks that shouldn’t be a problem leave me winded and in need of a breather. And it’s slow because being aware of how easily I get out of breath each step has to be thought out before actually doing it.
The new addition to the boat ISN’T quality work. My defense is: “It’s not an effin’ yacht, ya know….”
The water here at the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage is very shallow. Lots of boats come in at high tide and drop their hooks. For every high tide there’s a low tide and this is what happens.
Fortunately for ME I have a retractable keel and when it’s up (it always is, btw) I only draw about a foot of water. At low tide I’m sitting in about 3 feet of the wet.
Now you know…
I know I’ve been horribly neglectful about posting to this blog. It’s not that things haven’t been going on, it’s just that I’ve been posting to Facebook instead of to this wider audience. I’m making my New Year’s Resolution early to keep things up to date here.
We’ve moved into winter here at the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage. This past week was extremely nasty as far as weather was concerned.
So here are a few of the items to bring things up to date…I live full time on a very small sailboat, a Venture 22, at anchor. Sometimes it’s really, really not easy…
My Facebook friend Chris Shelton’s liveaboard boat is on the hard in St.Pete. He came by earlier this morning, Wed, the 20th, in his pickemup truck and we went toddling off to Home Depot where I could pick up some final things I need to finish off a project to keep rain from seeping under my sliding hatch.
We then drove to South Sarasota and had delicious mahi sandwiches at the Barefoot Bar and Grill. Before he retired Chris was a science teacher in small town Missouri and the owner of the place is the uncle of a couple of his former students. The man came over to visit with us and he and Chris had a great timemtalking about thenplaces they knew in common.
One of the things I bought at Home Depot was a new, cheap, set of rain gear. Good thing,too. Prognostication was for rain to move into the area for the next couple of days. Well it started on our way to lunch and was going pretty good by the timemwe got back to the dinghy dock.
I had to bail a good bit of water out of the dinghy before settling off, but I made it easily enough. There was enough juice in the batteries to put a good jolt into the depleted cell phone (and wifi hot spot) and the iPad. The patter of rain lulled me into a nice nap.
Thursday was a nasty, rainy day with the wind strong out of the south. When it’s from that direction there’s a fetch of a dozen miles and the wave action here in the shallow anchorage is really nasty. It never gets much more than 3 feet since at low tide I’m just sitting in about 5 feet of water but it’s uncomfortable as can be. It rained all day long and filled my dinghy to the point where it was close to sinking. Water weighs 8 lbs a gallon and there was at least 40 gallons in the boat designed for a load of about the same. When there was a bit of a lull in the afternoon I went out and bailed about 3/4 of the water out. But with food and water aboard I was doing okay. Just before going to bed the 25 pound Danforth anchor I have on deck (I have two other anchors down and holding me) kept moving around rumbling across the non-skid area from the wave action. I’d never be able to sleep with that going on so I suited up and went forward hanging on, desperately, to the mast to keep from being tossed into the water. I have two milk cartons tied to the bow pulpit rails to hold the anchor lines. I grabbed the bitter end of the 1./2-inch line, fastened it to the anchor stock with a bowline and tossed it overboard. No more noise and I can recover it at my leisure. Then I snuggled down and went to bed.
About 3 in the morning a gust of wind hit me so hard it woke me from a sound sleep. It broke one of the restraining straps on the Bimini top and the whole boat shuddered. It kept up like this for hours and hours. The saving grace was that the wind had swung around to due west. That put the land just a hundred yards or so there was nearly no wave action. All day long the wind roared across the anchorage…
As you can see gusts were coming at us at close to 50 mph!!!
That’s all over now, though. It’s calm here as if nothing ever happened except it’s cold.
On Thursday night I saw flashing lights ashore from Fire/Rescue vehicles but had no idea what was going on. It turns out that a couple of experienced sailors who live on a boat here were trying to go ashore. Their boat overturned and dumped them in the water. They were in the drink for nearly half an hour before being rescued by the Coast Guard, who happen to be stationed right on the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway from the anchorage, and taken ashore and treated for hypothermia.
I haven’t seen them since the incident but I’m sure they were trying to take Shawn ashore for her shift at the nearby Circle K. Come on, folks, there isn’t a job in the world worth risking your life to get to! EVER!!!
Enough for now.
One of the worst things about being old and living solely on Social Security is that as soon as the deposit is in your bank account you’re instantly poor again. It seems there’s always one big hit each month and then you scrimp along eating grilled cheese sandwiches so you can try and fool yourself into thinking you’ve had a hot meal.
Last month it was having my generator die. Living on a small sailboat at anchor I NEED to have a way of keeping my computer, iPad and phone with its wifi hotspot charged. It was a nice generator, too. A quiet four-stroke that hummed along right up until it blew a piston ring and vomited so much white smoke that a nearby neighbor jumped in their boat with a fire extinguisher thinking I was ablaze.
So, I had to go ashore, catch the once-an-hour bus over to the mainland and get to Harbor Freight and get one of their cheapo 2-strokers. It’s actually the THIRD ONE I’ve gotten from them. When I bought the first one over in Fort Lauderdale I also bought the extended warranty. The thing worked well enough for about nine months and then shit the bed. I took it to Harbor Freight and got free replacement. That worked until I’d enough money ahead that I was able to get the 4-stroker. I put the 2-stroke away as a back up. When I dug it up I couldn’t get it started, and you only get ONE free replacement. So I had to buy a new one and it came to a bit over $100 with the extended warranty.
A hundred bucks doesn’t seem like a lot of money to most people. Didn’t to me, either, for years. But NOW it’s almost 10% of my monthly income. Add on top of that $70 for phone and unlimited hotspot and another $115 for meds and instantly you’ve got more month than money.
Nearly a year ago I bought a 50 watt solar panel. I bought IT instead of a 100 watt panel because of its physical size; the same as the sliding hatch in my companionway. It’s 22 x 27 x 1.5 inches. The 100 watt panel is 47.3X21.3X1.4 inches. You have to remember, I’m limited on space with just a 22 foot boat with an 8 foot beam. I thought 50 watts would take care of my meager electrical needs. Nope! It does well. Takes care of close to 50%, I’d say. For instance, I didn’t need the generator yesterday. Was able to charge everything to the top simply off of my batteries which were, of course, charged by the panel. But I’m tired of listening to a generator going for several hours every day to keep things running, and I’m also tired of spending around $4/gallon for ethanol-free gasoline to run them.
So, this morning, I checked to see if the SS deposit was in the bank. Confirming that I went online and ordered a Renogy 100 watt kit for $220: 20% of my monthly allotment.
Renogy has a good reputation and manufactured the 50 watter. I got the “kit” because it include things you need to have like all the wiring to run from the panel to the battery bank, a 30 amp charge controller and “feet” to mount the panel. It’s scheduled to arrive at my mail drop in Holmes Beach, a free trolley ride away, next Tuesday.
My four-stroke generator is on an extended warranty for two years so I’m not in any great hurry to replace it. I’m pretty sure that with 150 watts of solar energy I won’t need a generator very often once the new panel is installed. If it works as it should, the savings of not buying all that gasoline will have the panel paid off in about six or seven months. In any event the immediate bonus is that I’ll have an additional $35 to $40 a month every month.
Now that I’ve posted this I need to row to shore and get to the pharmacy where I’m going to be out another 10% for my meds and then to the grocery store for probably another 10%. Doesn’t leave a lot left over if there’s an emergency.