Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mulligan Approved Music™ and Damn Purists

The 1st Mate and I played the Captain's Club on Sunday night, using our new equipment and song list. I recognized Mark Mulligan (markmulligan.net) sitting at the bar with a couple of friends. We were between sets and I stopped to say hello on my way to the head. Mark thought my "guitar work" was really good. He stopped at the 1st Mate's table and gave her a compliment on his way out the door. Nice man. 1st Mate didn't know who he was.

I think the voice harmonizer is a great device, and gives us a lot of optional songs we couldn't do without it... but the one piece we did that didn't use any effects, drum machine, or synthesizers (T. Monk's 'Round Midnight) got the greatest response from the audience. Damn purists.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Back on the Mooring, Back on the Books

The BLISS boat is back on the mooring after a month of dockside work. I left the camera on the boat for some reason, but maybe will pick it up later today. The outboard really needs some attention and I have a bunch of paperwork to do (ugh!) because of the !$%# business. Also, the generator has finally arrived from Michigan via Nogales and I will need to find a spot for it out at the rancho. Did I mention that it's huge? Weighing in about 1,000 pounds, it takes up most of the space in my pickup. I'm going to have to hire a crane to put it in the boat, but the little crane I installed on the pickup does a good job of what I have to do with it now. The genset came with meters, filters, spares, but I haven't seen a technical manual for it yet. I was able to download a users' manual from the Westerbeke website, though.
I may have to get a liter of coconut ice cream to get me through this. That and my camera.

Still comfortable temperatures in San Carlos, thank God. How I despise being cold.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Foot Fetish

What you see before you is Santa's early delivery of foot operated music controllers. The two on the right are brand new- I just returned from Errorzona with these in the Westy, and that's why I haven't blogged for awhile.

From left to right are:
The Roland GR-1 Guitar Synthesizer. The red guitar sports a digital pickup that generates two discrete digital signals per string for this black box. It contains 244 different musical instruments that can be played by picking and strumming the red guitar. You can mix different voices together to get something totally original. It will generate full orchestral effects or a simple tin flute... plus some really weird sounds that sonic engineers/rock musicians dream up during the intake of recreational chemicals. It has four foot pedals and various switches on the guitar and on the box itself. This was made decades ago and it's still way cool.

Numbah Two is a BOSS RC-50 Loop Station. Not long ago, BOSS bought Roland (or vice versa) and released this red and black 7 pedal device in 2005. It allows instantaneous recording of any sound plugged into it. It can instantly play back the track (called a phrase) and permits you to layer more sounds on top of the previous track. By switching the pedals on the Synth (above), I can lay down a bass track, then a rhythm track, a lead track, a vocal track and still have room to create two more full phrases. It has around 250 built-in drum styles and you can adjust the tempo to suit your song. It even has a USB port for downloading phrases created on the computer by yourself or maniacs on the internet. It's designed to create a full and complex sound during a live performance or allow total creative control if you want to try your hand (or foot) at composing.

Numero Tres is the sexy little black and silver Digitech Vocalist Live 4. This sound processor is designed to take your voice and adds effects. It basically creates a variety of voices that harmonize with you, taking its cues from whatever chords it hears from your guitar or keyboard (or synthesizer). It will add up to four additional voices plus your own for five. Choose between male and female singers, and some really strange presets like GIANT or ELF or BORG... You can sound like the Four Freshmen or Bob Dylan, too.

When they're all wired together you have access to just about any sound or effect you can dream up. They also all have MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) ports as another option for designing music. Later down the road , when I've assimilated all the manuals, I'll create a new YouTube musical encounter (of the Third Kind) and you can hear for yourself the beginnings of a New Age of Music... (did I really say New Age?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time is running out...


The First Mate always points out that in every movie ever made, that phrase, or one very much like it, is part of the dialog. Amazing, huh?

This photo shows the point I have arrived in the reconstruction of the head (bathroom) on BLISS the boat. The walls still need some light sanding and varnish, the tile will need grout (I will probably use white silicon), the lights need to be mounted where those wires protrude, and the door for the cabinet needs to be finished. Those are all things that appear in just this photo- there's a lot more than that.

I did, however, do some things you can't see, such as replacing the water pump with a new top-of -the-line unit, and some rewiring and re-plumbing under the sink.

BLISS is currently in a slip in the marina, which is a good place to do this job, because I'm constantly running out for materials and tools and Coca-Cola. My slip rent is expensive if I don't have a deal, (see prior post), so I have to have this all finished by the end of the month when the boat is due to go back out to the mooring, or cough up some big bucks to stay.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Work on BLISS

A few days back, a boat owner mentioned on the morning net that he wanted a mooring for a month and was subletting his slip at the marina. I called him up and we swapped my mooring for his slip. I had a credit with the marina, and with his payment for the mooring, I got Bliss into a 40 foot slip for a month for $20. A deal I couldn't pass up. 















Years ago we tried painting the plywood and plastic  laminate with enamel, which, as you can see, is peeling. The head is small, and the light paint really helped. 

So now I'm installing mahogany paneling, which I hope will lighten with the use of white wood stain. 
A couple afternoons patterning the space and cutting panels has yielded these photos. When the walls are done, I have the hatch, door and countertops to do.


Haven't decided whether to sail south this year or take the VW Westfalia camper... but around the end of the year it gets too cold to want to stick around. I follow the Seven Second Rule. If I can't get dressed in seven seconds, I'm too far north.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today in art class...


This is the first Monday in November and the Art League of San Carlos had their first meeting of the season. I got there late, and as I sat in the only empty chair in the room, I looked around. There was one other guy in there with me and 40 or so women and everybody had some little object in front of them they had been assigned to draw. Everybody, that is, except me.

Our instructor-for-the-day Sue walked over to me and said, "I know you. You can draw. I want you to draw..." she paused, looking me up and down.. "your shoe!" And then she walked away.
The Shoe came off and went up on the table I shared with four women, each drawing their own objets d' arte: a hat, a small vase, a picture of an owl, a wire basket. No one else in the room had to remove a piece of their clothing to draw (except, perhaps, the woman with the hat). I guess I should be glad Sue didn't tell me to draw my shorts.
After an hour Sue marched over to me, swept my drawing up into the air and said, "I knew it!" She strode to the center of the room with the Shoe Sketch held aloft, showing it around. She shouted, "This Shoe was drawn with Authority!" Everybody applauded (including me) and I was returned to obscurity once again... except for two women at an adjoining table who reached over and grabbed my model, the Shoe, and placed it on their table. "You can have your shoe back when we're done with it," one of the women said. "Here," said the other, "you can try drawing our toy mice..."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Now showing on You Tube

I've been stuck at the house taking hundreds of calls from our customers now that the book is being distributed. The calls range from requests to do telephone antique appraisals to complaints about typos and mistakes made in this publication.

Do I let this get me down? Hell no.

I have my four guitars (actually 3-1/2 guitars- I share one), synthesizers of all kinds, digital loopers, computers, video cameras, digital cameras, scanners, microphones...

Although I'm stuck at home, I can reach out and boogie online.
One of my favorite compositions (not mine, though) is called Oceano. This is my spontaneous arrangement, accompanied by film and photos from our sailing trips in Mexico. I play all the instruments. Hope you like.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So far it works great!

Had to drag the dink down to the marina and splash it for a test. The plastic trash bag I put on it peeled away cleanly and left a nice smooth surface.

Two things I noticed: the boat moves faster at low rpm and there's no more splash over from the wake. Yaaa! I zoomed out to BLISS on the mooring and found one of the mooring lines loose and reattached it. Tomorrow I'll go out and do a better job of it, since there will be a norther on Friday, and I'll probably be in Errorzona that day. I still have the wheels to mount and bottom paint to apply on the dinghy, but so far, so good.

The Three Dollar Cure





It's been awhile since I've been able to do much anything else but the Guidebook for the past few weeks, but now it's mostly done and I'm back doing some modifications to our 7-1/2 ft Livingston dinghy.

Over the past few days I've sanded, primed and sprayed new white gelcoat on the hull.
Now I'm adding some additional flotation between the almas near the stern- I hope to accomplish two things with this work: A) When I'm motoring at any speed, the water climbs up the transom and splashes into the boat. I hope that lifting the stern will eliminate the problem; and B) This little boat is really heavy for it's size, so I'll be adding wheels to the stern so I can roll it up on the beach when I get to shore, rather than dragging the thing over sand and rocks. The added buoyancy should help offset the weight of the wheels... or I may have wheels ...and water sloshing over the stern as well. I dunno.

To accomplish the task, I bought a block of stryofoam 2'x2'x6" at the local hardware store for about $3. (They use it as a building material here). I used a small handsaw and my secret weapon to shape and smooth the foam to fit the space. My secret weapon is an inline air powered sander with 40 grit sandpaper. It uses sheets 2"x2' and does a fast clean job of shaping styrofoam. I glued the styro in with West Systems Epoxy and adhesive filler and let it set up overnight. This morning I sanded it smooth and cut a piece of heavy fiberglass roving to cover it, mixed up some more epoxy and wetted the cloth in place using a 3" paint roller. I wandered back out to take the pictures when I noticed the cloth lifting off the foam. Yikes! I dodged back into the house and grabbed a white kitchen garbage bag, slit it down one side and spread it over the work. I was able to smooth the fabric down and squeegee out the trapped air with my hand, and I'm leaving the bag in place until it cures enough to peel it off... if it will peel off. Guess we'll find out later, huh?

Feels good to be doing boat stuff again!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another piece of the puzzle

This piece of equipment is a high pressure pump I won for a great price on eBay. This pump will be driven either by a power-take off (PTO) from the new generator or by a 5-6 hp electric motor. For what, you ask?
This pump will suck seawater into the boat and push it against a semi-permeable membrane. The water that goes through the membrane is fresh clean water, the stuff that doesn't go through goes back overboard.
In this way we make fresh (drinkable) water out of ocean water. This pump, when it's all hooked up to the rest of the system will desalinate between 24 and 48 gallons of water per hour, depending on whether we use one membrane or two.
It's not quite enough to keep up with a standard showerhead (at 3.5 gallons per minute) but will fill the tanks for that shower pretty fast. The watermaker we have on BLISS now will make about 1 gallon per hour or about 2 days to fill our 50 gallon tank.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New shoes for baby

Shed the tread
My 17 year-old tire finally did what it was supposed to do... delaminate and die. I've had a trip to the tire store on my list for a week, now that I'm using the VW Westy on a daily basis. And as I was tooling out of the ranchitos (the desert/dirt road open development on the NE part of San Carlos) after a stop at the GREEN FLASH, something started banging on the van.
My first thought was "blown tire" but I looked out the window and saw the tire wasn't deflated. Then I thought, "Oh No, not the motor!" But I only got the sound when the van moved, and the motor was ticking away as I sat there.
So I finally got out and walked back to the tire where I found a flap of rubber and stainless steel hanging from the top of the tire. The tread had peeled off, but the tire still had air.

A quarter mile down the road was a tire guy's shed- a llantera they call it in these parts. I had used him before and he was pretty good. He has a little metal shelter, no walls, on the side of the road, where he fixes tires and keeps a few used tires in various sizes to sell. I can't remember his name.
I drove the Westy down the road and had him pull off the bad tire and put the spare on the car, and top off the air pressure. He asked for 30 pesos, or about $2.70 US. I gave him 50.
When I brought the van home, the 1st Mate was relieved that the mishap didn't occur at 60 mph on a curve and suggested the trip to the tire shop.

Fresh Tires,
great price

The Continental/General Tire shop on the main road in Guaymas was my choice. The Westy weighs almost 6,000 pounds, so a heavy duty tire is required. My research online showed that the General Altimax RT 205 R70 14 was a good replacement, and as it turned out, they had them in stock. (I had priced tires online. The best deal was $290 for 4 tires out-the-door price, but 10 days to order them in Tucson .) The cost here was $267 complete and the tires were made this year in Mexico. They had new equipment for mounting and balancing, and the people were really nice, and accepted my VISA for payment.
...and a warning
For those of you who haven't seen this video about old tires (even if you've never used them) and how they can kill you, click here: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4826897

Friday, September 19, 2008

A tale of two sails

The GREEN FLASH is somewhat larger than our current sailboat, BLISS. How much larger, you ask?
Bliss is 33" long, the FLASH is 43' plus a 7 foot bowsprit, taking her to 50' overall. BLISS weighs (displaces) 8 tons, FLASH about 12 tons. The mast on BLISS is 40' from deck to top, whereas you can add almost another 20' to reach the top of the mast on the FLASH... and that's where the major difference is between these boats. FLASH's wind engine is around 1000 square feet and BLISS's is about 400. The difference really becomes apparent at the sail loft (our storage room). The small bundle in these photos is a jib (the sail in the front of the boat) for BLISS; the large bundle in the bag is a jib for the FLASH.
Other things come into play when you add more sail area... The force on a 565 sq. ft. jib is exponentially higher than the 220 sq. ft. jib, so the material needs to be either heavier (to be stronger) or the material needs to be "more advanced." And more expensive...
BLISS's jib is constructed of panels of Dacron (synthetic) fabric, sewn together and fitted with reinforcement at the corners and spots on the sail where it will rub against something. A sail this size of this material will cost about $1400 new.
The GREEN FLASH sail is built from panels of Pentex (advanced synthetic material) with reinforcing at corners and chafe points. It also has heavy threads of Kevlar (the material used to make bullet-proof vests) running through the Pentex to add strength, and few other bells and whistles you should have when you hoist up this monster to the top of a 60 foot mast in a stiff breeze. This sail costs about $5300 when new.

As a general rule, I don't buy my sails new. I find that a lot of sailors have much more money than I do, so I buy their "trade-ins" when they pick up their new suite of sails. The sailmakers can make a little on the mark-up of the used sail, plus repairs and alterations the sail may need for a different boat. If it wasn't for used sails, the sailmakers would probably never see me at all.

Now, I should add that I didn't pay $5300 for that sail. I bought it from the man who made it for his own boat and is a professional sailmaker (for many years) who is now in Mexico and cruising our area. Because he made it for his own boat, he didn't spare any expense, so I think I did really well. I paid him 25% more for the sail to make some revisions to the thing. It's so big, I need a parking lot in order to spread this sail out on the ground... it's a triangle 47x45x25 feet.

When I think about putting this sail up, I have mixed feelings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just for Rob


Rob's Comment: "OK, so where is my little red dot on the greater map of things? :o))"

September 15, 2008 11:13 AM

Friday, September 12, 2008

I know you're out there reading this...

Because I have IP2MAP (the little button near the bottom, right hand side). IP2Map tells me where my last 100 readers are from, based on their IP number, then it puts them on a map of the world, like this:


then it lists the last 100 places in the world where you'all logged into the net (an abbreviated version here):

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN (UNITED STATES)
GUAYMAS, SONORA (MEXICO)
CAMARILLO, CALIFORNIA (UNITED STATES)
GREECE
BURLINGTON, VERMONT (UNITED STATES)
TOKYO, TOKYO (JAPAN)
ROYAL OAK, MICHIGAN (UNITED STATES)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (UNITED STATES)
BURLINGTON, VERMONT (UNITED STATES)
GUAYMAS, SONORA (MEXICO)
BEL AIR, MARYLAND (UNITED STATES)
COVENTRY, ENGLAND (UNITED KINGDOM)
BUDAPEST, BUDAPEST (HUNGARY)
EL CAJON, CALIFORNIA (UNITED STATES)
COVENTRY, ENGLAND (UNITED KINGDOM)
BATH, PENNSYLVANIA (UNITED STATES)
TOKYO, TOKYO (JAPAN)
HOPKINSVILLE, KENTUCKY (UNITED STATES)
ELIZAVILLE, NEW YORK (UNITED STATES)
CINCINNATI, OHIO (UNITED STATES)
CLEARWATER, KANSAS (UNITED STATES)
SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES (AUSTRALIA)
BURLINGTON, VERMONT (UNITED STATES)
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA (CANADA)
GERMANTOWN, MARYLAND (UNITED STATES)
SLIPPERY ROCK, PENNSYLVANIA (UNITED STATES)
IOWA CITY, IOWA (UNITED STATES)
RENTON, WASHINGTON (UNITED STATES)
BRIDGEVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA (UNITED STATES)
LEESBURG, FLORIDA (UNITED STATES)

I guess most of you are shy, or feeling guilty for reading my blog when you're supposed to counting beans on your (or the company's) computer, because I don't get a lot of comments.

Maybe you feel like, "Gawd, he's a gazillion miles away, doing some things I want to do when I finally dump this stoopid job," or maybe, "Gawd, what a dumbo! He goes out and buys a wreck of a boat when he has a perfectly good sloop to go sailing in. Why isn't he lying on the sand sipping Coronas like they do in the commercials??"

Or maybe it's a BLEND (love that word!) of the two thoughts above, or maybe it's something totally unrelated and/or completely original. The sad thing is, nobody will really know until you put your teensy digits on the keyboard and type something in the comments.

Or maybe, you think, "Gawd. He doesn't know me from Adam/Eve!" I can help with that... I'll go through that list and tell you what I know about each place, so you'll feel more at home here...

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN (UNITED STATES)-- beer, not Corona, though
GUAYMAS, SONORA (MEXICO)-- c'mon, that's probably ME
CAMARILLO, CALIFORNIA (UNITED STATES)-- Home of Harbor Freight, on Hwy 101
GREECE-- unh...
BURLINGTON, VERMONT (UNITED STATES)-- I know, I know! Woolen clothes and stuff
TOKYO, TOKYO (JAPAN)-- Must be Maria, from Ferroever!
ROYAL OAK, MICHIGAN (UNITED STATES)-- Is this where all those guys with Westy's live?
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (UNITED STATES)-- Garrison Keillor, mosquitos and ice fishing
BURLINGTON, VERMONT (UNITED STATES)-- see above
GUAYMAS, SONORA (MEXICO)-- More of ME
BEL AIR, MARYLAND (UNITED STATES)-- Oooooh. Sounds ritzy.
COVENTRY, ENGLAND (UNITED KINGDOM)-- Is this one of my old girlfriends?
BUDAPEST, BUDAPEST (HUNGARY)-- unh...
EL CAJON, CALIFORNIA (UNITED STATES)-- hmmm
COVENTRY, ENGLAND (UNITED KINGDOM)-- Can't give me up, can you girl?
BATH, PENNSYLVANIA (UNITED STATES)-- ??
TOKYO, TOKYO (JAPAN)-- I'll check on your boat for ya'.
HOPKINSVILLE, KENTUCKY (UNITED STATES)-- lost me there...
ELIZAVILLE, NEW YORK (UNITED STATES)-- Maybe you could clue me in?
CINCINNATI, OHIO (UNITED STATES)-- Hey! The original owners of the GF lived there!
CLEARWATER, KANSAS (UNITED STATES)-- unh..
SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES (AUSTRALIA)-- It's BEER, mate!
BURLINGTON, VERMONT (UNITED STATES)-- I don't blame you. Must be freezing up there!
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA (CANADA)-- Could it be the crew from SOL MATE?
GERMANTOWN, MARYLAND (UNITED STATES)-- I know Chevy Chase, though...
SLIPPERY ROCK, PENNSYLVANIA (UNITED STATES)-- Home of the Slippery Rock State Teachers College, and Rolling Rock beer (I think).
IOWA CITY, IOWA (UNITED STATES)-- Good sailing there, eh?
RENTON, WASHINGTON (UNITED STATES)-- Home of Mr. Softy!
BRIDGEVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA (UNITED STATES)-- unh...
LEESBURG, FLORIDA (UNITED STATES)-- That rings a bell..

SEE? Now don't you feel at home?
I've done my part, the rest is up to you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Captain Chlorophyll is Back

In my distant past, when we lived on an old chicken ranch in Northern California, I would don my grubbies and grab my weed eater and go out and whack weeds. After several hours of this I would return to the house, my body covered in tiny bits of green foliage, sort of like a Gilley Suit, or a survivor from a coleslaw accident.

I took one look in the mirror and said to myself, "I am Captain Chlorophyll, defender of well groomed lawns."


Whenever the yard needed whacking, I would warn the 1st Mate that Captain Chlorophyll would be making an appearance. Today, the desert needed it.

So, behold my work... It's been said that a redneck is a person who cuts his lawn and finds a car.

This is what the Captain finds...

Fortunately, the insects were off eating something else, (I haven't seen Miguel's German Shepard for days), so the work was just hot and sweaty and slightly less painful.




Saturday, September 6, 2008

A new (permanent?) home for BLISS

I went out to the GREEN FLASH as promised and gave a pint of blood to the local insect population before scampering back to the house with a five gallon paint container filled with polyurethane foam to act as a temporary mooring buoy.

Then it was off to the bay in the dinghy to move the boat one last time. We've been on four different moorings in as many months, until we heard that Vincenzo, owner of the charter boat BRAVO was the guy to see about putting in a mooring. Two weeks and $500 later, we now have a home for BLISS.
Vincenzo (do they call him Vinnie?) will relocate the mooring if we want, so that's a good thing. He tells me the mooring consists of a block of concrete four by six feet, three feet high.

Next up, I'm going to see if I can find instruction online on how to build a proper mooring ball.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's Alive!

After a week and a half of turning wrenches, reading manuals, spraying high temperature paint, cleaning parts, asking questions online, removing gunk from my hair and getting all the doorknobs in the house covered with dirty grease (yuk!), our 1986 Westy camper runs just fine.

This vehicle sat in our Errorzona RV storage lot next to out 27 foot motor home for about a year and a half. The mice moved in and left their calling cards everywhere. They didn't chew on the wires (that I know of) and when I discovered their presence, I left them a couple of box lunches (MousePruf). The bait was all gone when I returned 2 weeks later and the boxes themselves chewed up. So I left a couple more. I found their little mummified bodies curled up next to each other in a cabinet filled with shredded insulation (awwww...) when I cleaned out the van.

The 1st Mate and I jumped into the Westy and took off for Algodones Beach for a test drive. The van passed with flying colors (except maybe the temp gauge showed it warming up to 2/3 of the way, but it's 100 degrees today) and my joy has no bounds, 1st Mate grinned until her face hurt and I owe it all to my higher power and the guys and girls on the Vanagon and Westy discussion group (click on the title above to go there) on the internet... and to the 1st Mate who allowed me to turn our carport into a mechanic's workshop.

I had decided to clean and paint all the parts I could as I dismantled the motor, (like I had done with the diesel on BLISS, our Morgan 33 sailboat) and I'm glad I did. It makes things easier to see and work on when it's not all that same dirty grease covered with dust color. I'm pleased with the way it came out, but the proof will be in how long it runs before it breaks.

Now I have the "garage" to clean, and put away all the tools, and get out to the GREEN FLASH with my machete and a weed eater. The boat is living in a jungle after all the monsoon rains. You know, a sailor's work is never done. Thank God.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tropical Storm Julio moves on






Looking north from the GF the remnants of TS Julio blanket the mountains.







The 10-15 inches of rain we got in the last two days pressure washed the hull interior so I don't have to now.









But it means I'll have to get out the machete and the weed eater.
... and I did mention that tarps just don't cut it sometime ago.







Here's the FLASH looking like the Ghost Ship.







back to the blog...
I spent the day picking up after TS Julio drove through the area, flooding roads and filling them with debris. I climbed up through La Jungla and pumped the water out and drilled holes in areas where water was trapped, so that it could drain to the bilge pump. The generator warmed up fine after awhile, and put more juice into my battery bank.

Ecoterrorism
I also started my war against the stinging ants around the area. They were building rather large mounds under the plywood scraps lying on the ground. I wanted to try using BIO-BLAST, a naturally occurring spore that attacks termites, ticks, and ants (I think ants, anyway) and turns them into more food for the spores. The small ants feel like mosquito bites, the larger ants feel like getting hit with a BB gun, or stabbed with a large sewing needle (like a #22). The nests are around and under my new workbench, so they have to go.

Sun Protection
I have some Sunbrella awning material I may sew up for tarp over the workbench, and some heavy shadecloth I found for a couple of bucks at The White Elephant in Green Valley, Errorzona.

What's next?
Well, I sent a check off to Michigan for the 15kw Westerbeke generator that will provide the electric half to the diesel-electric side of the equation, and I'm learning about variable frequency speed controllers for AC motors before I plop down the bucks for the drive motor. I got a bid on uShip.com to bring it to Nogales, AZ to where my friend (and landlord) has a warehouse. Then the process of getting it down here and installed and soundproofed...

Also...
I am searching the internet for diesel fuel tanks that may fit the boat (I'd like to have about 100 gallons or so onboard). And I'm still researching foam core material- I'd like to find somebody in AZ who has some in stock I can play with. In the last trip north, I managed to bring down the last of the electrical connector supply I purchased at an 80% discount from a Radio Shack that was going out of business (that was 4 years ago, before I ever thought about a boat project like this). I've learned to always trust my instincts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lazy-not!


Just because I've been staying away from the Flash until we get a weather break, I've been busy. We drove the pickup north to Amado, Errorzona, where we've been storing our 1986 VW Westphalia camper. The camper has a remanufactured engine with 500 miles on and a blown head.
So, we purchased a towbar at Harbor Freight, some magnetic trailer lights at Walmart, and dragged it down and put it under the carport at the front of the house, where I've been installing the replacement head.

And to make things a little more interesting, and to help in sorting out all the visual clutter in the the engine compartment, I've been cleaning and painting parts. It is. IMHO, the nicest looking non-functional motor in Mexico. The last of the parts (I hope) are here and perhaps I'll get this vehicle running again. I really love driving this car-
BTW- there's more pix to come on this car.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Too darn hot!!

Like the song from the old movie, "Kiss Me Kate," (now there's a trivia hit), it's way too warm right now to spend much time out in the ranchos on the FLASH... although the temps are only around 100, the "feels like" temp is hovering near 117° at times due to the high humidity.

Weather isn't just idle chat to sailors- many times our lives and homes (if living aboard) depends on good weather data. But enough of that.

We have been discussing the financial side of the FLASH, now that we're facing outlays for the propulsion system and the costly structural foam planned for the boat. My feeling is that we should go ahead and move on the generator (since it's a one-of-a-kind deal and open to someone else buying it from under us) and postpone the foam until later... they'll still be making it years from now, and there's still much we can do without it... like what, you say?

Well, there's the planning of space for tanks (drinking water, diesel, waste); for equipment (generator, watermaker, propulsion motor, pumps, electrical controllers, etc.); galley, berths, heads, etc. The tanks need to be researched for the best possible (and affordable) materials in addition to placement and construction (also depending on material) so you can see there's a lot of decisions to be made.

The generator is going to be the single heaviest piece of gear going into the boat (at 875 lbs) so the placement of that is crucial to the balance (the trim) of the vessel. I would prefer it to be forward, but it will probably be right where the diesel engine was located... the center of the boat. I plan to soundproof the genset to the point where it's virtually silent. It is watercooled, but I would also like to add central air conditioning nearby (also watercooled, if possible) to maintain reasonable temperatures in the sound enclosure and for the propulsion motor and cabin as well.

Looks like I'm going to earn my keep on this one.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What a difference a Blade makes...





I've been using fiberglass reinforced composite blades on my grinder for what? To cut fibreglass composites! Trouble is, the blades wear down and you have to stop and put another one on. So, while waiting for my haircut at Maru's Est├ętica, I drove over to the ferreteria (hardware, not ferrets) to buy more blades. They cost about $2.50 each, but I found a metal and diamond blade for $8 and thought I'd give it a go... and go it does. Cuts mild steel, too, without diminishing in size. So I went through the starboard side of the boat cutting out all the tabs still on the hull, then I cut out the bathtub and I cut out the double berth in the stern, too. Then I cut out a part of the deck for the last upright beam and installed it.



Then I set up part of my alternative electrical system... the photo shows from left to right: my thumb, a portable guitar amp I use to run my iPod through, two deep cycle 6 volt batteries, a marine battery charger and my 2000 watt inverter (converts 12 volts dc to 120 volt ac). Next week, after I get back from Errorzona, I'll install the wind generator. It generates almost half a kilowatt per hour and feeds it directly into the batteries. And I'll start on the port side of the boat, getting stuff cut out. I hope to be starting construction this month, and I'll bring in some help.


Now that the temps are getting higher, I added another shade cloth to the existing setup to knock down more of the heat. You can see it in the above photo. I also sprinkle water inside the boat periodically. It cuts down dust and cools the air. Oh, and the haircut? Show you next time.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nothing like a little fiberglass dust.


Spent the late afternoon cutting out bulkheads and tabs (fiberglass attachments to the hull) with my trusty Makita grinder. I use a metal cutting disc on the thing and it slices through the glass and resin pretty fast and clean. If there's wood underneath the glass, I use a regular electric saw to cut the wood.

In order to cut down the amount of dust blowing around inside the hull, I use a water hose set to a fine spray to knock the dust down and flush it into the bilge. The problem isn't just the dust that the grinder kicks up, it's also the piles of dust that accumulate in corners, etc. A breeze will lift that stuff up, swirl it around the hull and then it lands on me, finding it's way into my armor and makes my life miserable for a couple of days (and nights). I also use the hose to wash down my body after the work is done- strip to just my shorts and hose off the glass dust before it gets imbedded in my skin. The photo shows that there's only two bulkheads remaining on the starboard side, and those are holding up my shade and crane attachments. The bathtub with come out this week, but right now it's holding a battery bank. Hmmm, this boat is starting to look bigger.

Diesel Electric system for the FLASH



How this photo is not related to the title of this blog: I spent all of yesterday cleaning up the workyard, hauling boat parts off to the dump, and whacking down weeds (some small trees!). Didn't see a single rattlesnake or scorpion, by the way...


Now about the title of this installment: I think I may have found the major component for the FLASH's new propulsion system. I located a 15 kw Westerbeke marine diesel generator in Michigan for $1800 plus shipping. Here's the description: "Westerbeke 15 kw running take out. Removed from yacht. Generator runs excellent, needs nothing. Has gauges, filters, manuals and stainless steel exhaust, Fresh water unit approx. 3000 hours. $1800." I sent the guy an email and he replied that he still had the unit and left me a phone number to call, so this morning I called him to discuss the generator. He told me the unit was part of a package deal- when he bought the engines from a repowering of the Lake Michigan yacht "Pilgrim" the generator was included. Turns out that the yacht had belonged to none other than John Wayne.
Synchronicity: Two days ago, I was talking with my landlord, Daniel, who owns and is president of one of the largest import/export/NAFTA companies in Mexico. He asked me if I could pick up a new guitar amp for him if it was sent to one of his warehouses on the border (he really likes the one I just bought). I told him I would be bringing some stuff into Mexico for the new boat, too, so he gave me the address of the warehouse. It turns out that I drive right past it on my way to and from the US. So, it looks like things are coming together.

Except...

I have to go out to the anchorage and move the BLISS boat to another mooring( again) this morning. I'm told the one I'm on isn't ready for hurricane season (which started in June).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Building a carpentry shop,
one workbench at a time





I know that as I get further into the project, I'm going to need some sizable workspace as the pieces go on and off this boat. Hence the 6 ft wide, 14 ft long workbench. It has a steel frame and I'll box the whole thing in with hinged doors to store tools and material. Right now I'm using the trailers for that, but I'll need them for bringing in resin, glass, rigid foam sheets (a product called PrecisionBoard(PB)... it's strong and light and you can glue it together and sculpt it into the shape you want easily [I hope] and then cover it with fiberglass and resin or epoxy). It's also expensive (4x8 ft sheet one inch thick is about $180 plus shipping). Then there's paint, adhesives, plexiglass, and more plywood.

I did all of this today... but after getting up at 5, going out to the anchorage and moving the BLISS boat to another mooring, taking the First Mate shopping and to pay the electric bill in Guaymas.

I had some catching up to do because Saturday I bought the plywood and took it to the yard, Sunday we rehearsed all day in preparation for a performance at the Captain's Club from 4pm 'til 9 or so, and Monday was spent working on the business website. Add in some time eating, sleeping and throwing the ball for Chica, writing to my sister in New York, and minor house repairs, getting drinking water, etc. and I've been pretty busy.

I believe I promised the First Mate we would hit the tiangus in Guaymas tomorrow morning. I want to look for attachments for my nifty new bench grinder.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Monsoons are here


Over the past week it has rained three days... for the desert, that's a lot... and the road crew has been laying in a new road for us out in front of the house. Now I can walk outside in my bare feet (I hate shoes) to fetch the dogs. The heavy equipment used to level and fill the low spots is long gone. The road is interlocking concrete brick, and instead of a muddy lake for a front yard, we have this. There's now a gentle slope running to the adjoining street to carry away the monsoon. Hurricane Dolly just came ashore near Brownsville and is pushing a lot of clouds our way. That's all we'll get from it. It's too far away.
In other news, I have a dinghy tied up to the dock
that is slowly (sometimes quickly) filling with rainwater and I need to go bail out that thing every couple of days even though it won't sink, but the stuff in it will float away.
I want to buzz out to the Flash today and start clearing the work yard of boat bits, get some plywood hauled up and get a workbench set up in the boat. I won't get all that done, but it will be cooler today with the overcast and light rain we have now. Humidity? 100% (It's always 100% when it rains, I'm told.)

The crane and pulley doing the job.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It takes longer than you think


You see this little pulley? I spent the entire day putting this up. Of course I had to install the steel crossmenber for the pulley too... but all day?
It's through-bolted on the steel beam, and I wanted it to swivel so I had to design and make that part, too. It's designed to handle steel cable going through it, so I can start using the electric winches to bring stuff to the work area inside the boat... and it's also designed to handle fairly heavy loads- up to about 500 pounds. So I guess I didn't do too bad today. Also it rained twice and that felt great...

I noticed a gold car cruising past the Flash a couple of times and it was sitting at the intersection as I was leaving for the day. I thought it was suspicious... so I caught up with him and started taking his picture. There's a few things I wouldn't want to have to replace
out there... here he is.
If you see this car cruising your neighborhood, you must be in Mexico too! Carumba!