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Friday, July 23, 2010

Tropical Storm Bonnie skirts on by...

Rain... wind and more rain.

I'm not going to gripe about Tropical Storm Bonnie dumping a lot rain on a Friday. It's gotta rain sometime otherwise we'd all be griping about a dry spell. Bonnie did indeed dump some rain but not near what seemed to have been forecast-ed on the weather reports.

The rain I suppose was a nice change of pace from the oppressive heat of the past two weeks and an opportunity to see what leaks the boat may perhaps have. Well yes...S/V Blondie-Dog does indeed leak in a few places. She's got a leak at the base of the mast, the V-berth, and leaks along both port and starboard portholes for starters. What the hell... all boats leak somewhere. The sea-cocks don't seem to leak and the bilge has yet to fill up so I gotta be happy about that.

It was my first day not to do a damned thing aboard the boat. I closed everything up as best I could after deciding that I wasn't quite ready to put up with a stuffy cabin all day. I later headed out to Starbucks, then later to the public library so I could spread my stuff out on a table, and finally back to the comfort of the air-conditioned marina lounge. Later that evening I went chasing a good time and a few cold ones at a nearby tavern that caters to chain-smoking, fuddy-duddies. The place has a multiple flat TV screens and cheep beer. I happened to want to watch a little Texas Rangers baseball for whatever compelling reason. (Rangers 1, Angels 0 for what its worth)

Not that anyone really cares, but penne pasta along with garlic-basil pasta sauce were on the dinner menu today. The galley was hot and steamy since all the hatches were closed up in an attempt to keep all the wind and rain out. It certainly was no a joy to be slaving over the alcohol stove but I was damned hungry and scarfed it all down with a few slices of bread to mop up the sauce.

It's now a day after Bonnie swept by and it is a beautiful morning with blue skies and gentle breezes. I've got my bed linen and comforter drying out up on deck along with my sleeping bag. This all after wiping the deck dry with a dish towel.

Memo to self: Cleanup, shave, and say hi to all the good looking young and not-so-young ladies strolling by with their dogs throughout the day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Still messing around with the boat...

Much to my surprise, the un-diluted bottle of bleach that I had liberally sprayed throughout the V-berth and head certainly had its intended effect. The boat is starting to actually feel habitable. The bleach made a world of difference on me wanting to sprawl out in the V-berth for any period of time.

I gotta believe that disposing of the four inch thick spongy bed mattress that came with the boat was definitely the right decision as well. All it seemed to do was absorb moisture and propogate germs not unlike a dishwashing sponge. It didn't seem that it would ever dry out in the hot sun and I certainly wasn't going want to be sleeping on a giant moist germ-collecting dishwashing sponge... so that thing was unceremoniously carted off into the marina trash dumpster.

In its place is a sleeping pad for camping, a sleeping bag, and a small air-mattress... not entirely nautical, but functional for the time being.

The alcohol stove had its turn today... I pulled it out of its recess and gave it a thorough examination and cleaning. The valve to the back burner was stuck in the open position but I finally worked it enough that it now opens and closes readily enough. The burners were encrusted in rust and burned crud but not after I put a metal battery terminal brush to good use. I made a mess in the cockpit but it was better than taking a chance on losing some small random fitting overboard.

The real test came later and Voila! The stove actually worked... both burners were burning away... I still need to get use to controlling the amount of flame coming out of the burners though... and I'll also need some real stick matches... that Bar-B-Que grill lighter that I purchased doesn't light on cue and the plastic cigarette lighter that I claimed off of a bar-room floor not long ago seems to take a layer of skin off of my thumb every time I attempt to use it.

On the menu tonight, not that anyone really cares, was maccaroni and cheese along with boiled red potatos and diced Italian hard salami. The water boiled readily enough inside the pressure cooker. I've got too much cookingware aboard the boat but the pressure cooker certainly is a keeper. I'll hold off on buying a propane stove for the boat for now.

Memo to self: plan meals ahead of time, dig out all the food items and seasonings as well as the pots & pans to be used BEFORE lighting up the alcohol stove.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Wood is Permeated...

Permeated... now that's one word that is not often heard.

I finally relented and sought out some professional help to come check out the head onboard the boat. There is still a lingering foul odor emanating from beneath the V-berth and I simply won't be able to sleep in the V-berth until that odor is completely done away with.

A quick inspection by the father & son team disclosed that all the fittings and hoses were new and in good order and that there were no leaks to be found... and the rubber elbow that I inserted to eliminate a hose kink was the right thing to do.

They readily concluded however that the surrounding wood was nevertheless "permeated"... uh-oh... that sounds expensive... and that the only remedy was to treat it with bleach... okay, not expensive... and to use un-diluted bleach. With that they took off... "now you know what to do".

I proceeded to remove all the gear that I had stored in the V-berth and liberally spray bleach into every crevasse imaginable...whether real or not.

Permeated?... I'll show permeated... that permeated wood will come to understand permeated... as in permeated with bleach.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flare-up in the Galley!!

I finally got motivated enough to start messing around with the alcohol stove. For some random reason I was convinced that the stove was outdated, crapped-out, inefficient, and simply impractical.

I'd already concluded that I'd soon be ripping this thing out and pitching it overboard. Nevertheless I thought that it would be unwise to not even attempt to light it up not to mention that henceforward I'd be thinking of myself as a weeny for not even trying. A quick google search soon spat out a pdf file with the approprite operating instructions.

The instructions were simple enough and it wasn't long before I was priming my Homestrand gimble mounted two burner alcohol stove. Soon enough to my surprise the front burner was putting out a nice intense flame.

The back burner was another matter... evidently the valve was stuck on open and upen lighting it, a small flame intensified into a larger flame, and then into what seemed to me to be a blow-torch. In an instant, I grabbed for the fire extinguisher and was all set to put the thing out when all of a sudden it started to die down on its own. It did however give me quite a scare.

Memo to self: Disasemble burners, clean, lubricate, reasemble, test.

I later gave the front burner its first real test and cooked up one those Goya packaged seasoned rice dishes. I threw in some Italian hard salami that I had chopped up and to my pleasant surprise the burner had worked like a charm and I had a meal to boot. Dessert was a small cup of Mott's original applesauce.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dinner aboard S/V Blondie-Dog...

I've yet to figure out how to use the alcohol stove top onboard the boat... from all that I've previously heard and read, alcohol stoves take awhile to heat whatever one is cooking on the stove top.

I am so tempted to head on out to the nearest HomeDepot, (Is Sears still around or did it go the route as Oldsmobile or Senator John McCain?)... but I digress... anyway I've got half a mind to purchase a small power generator, a small microwave and a two-burner electric stove top from WalMart... that as well as a propane camping stove.

Nevertheless, on the menu tonight, not that anyone really cares, was an unheated can of Hormel Chile with Beans mixed in along with a tin of King Oscar Kipper Snacks-lightly-smoked hearing fillets... add to it a good splash of Tobasco and a few saltine crackers... Beats the hell out of another obesity inducing burger and fries any day in the middle of the week. My beverage to wash it all down was an unpretentious $3 bottle of Oak Leaf Merlot...

"Don't Complain and Don't Explain"...

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Don't complain and don't explain... and to that I'll add that one would be well advised not to comment about one's personal affairs to other boaters that you don't really know.

No sooner had I tied up to the slip after pulling into the marina when a fellow boater came along to introduce himself... no problem there and no objection to possibly sailing in tandem once out in the open waters and no objection to the offer of help either... "you help me and I'll help you..."

Well the next day for the sake of idle conversation I commented on some of the gear I'd be needing before setting sail... among of which was a VHF radio and in passing wondered aloud whether there was such thing as a VHF radio and GPS combined in one unit upon which the fellow boater instantly jumped out of his sofa chair in the marina lounge and onto the computer. A quick google search revealed that sure enough there was indeed such a thing for a whopping $800 bucks or so... "you see, I've already helped you...". Now I'm thinking wtf??

A day later upon entering the air-conditioned marina lounge, I once again encounter my fellow boater and I randomly comment how hot it is onboard the boat and once again the guy seizes the opportunity to offer his expertise... "you know what you should do?" he deadpans... "you should purchase some fans for your boat"... wow... how brilliant... why didn't I think of that... what would I do without this guy...

The following day after laboring on the boat all morning and after a soothing cold shower later that afternoon, I find myself in the marina lounge, spawled out on a sofa watching Giada ever so delicately slice up an onion on TV when in walks you know who.

After mutually observing that her cooking use to be even more delectable when she use to show more cleavage while on her show, so-and-so jumps on the computer and once again I'm getting a condescending index finger motioning me to come hither... now I'm annoyed... hell no am I getting out of my comfort zone and hell no am I getting up to go check out the cleavage you googled on the web and hell no am I wearing a choke collar and a leash. and I proceed to emphatically inform him of such.

A day later against my better judgement I accept an invitation from so-and-so to go to a local watering hole that I had previously discovered... and I am reminded by him once again how he has already helped me with the VHF radio and how to deal with the heat onboard the boat and how to get about town... I can't believe what I'm hearing from this guy and soon thereafter conclude that this guy is full of crap and I question whether this guy even knows how to set an anchor.

While sipping on a cold beverage, the guy proceeds to tell me..."you shouldn't wear that hat... I don't like it... you look like Crocodile Dundee... I like your black ball cap better"... well my black cap was back on the boat drying out after a good washing, but now I'm aggravated and proceed to inform the dude, "I don't give a crap whether you like my hat or not... I like it and I'll wear it.... that was more unsolicited commentary on your part".

He soon departs a moment or so later but that didn't stop him from making an observation the next day that it is hard not to sweat while waiting for the bus at a bus stop... and that he had previously helped me with the VHF radio all the while giving me this wounded puppy-dog look. I had another wtf moment but elected to not pursue the conversation.

Damned... if you want to borrow my fully depreciated crappy car... just ask... I won't be an a-hole about it.... just don't carry on about me being indebted to you for some bullsh*t unsolicited advise.

Don't complain and don't explain.

Messing around with the head...

The least pleasant thing to mess around with on a boat is by far the head. It stinks to say the least and is problematic to fix and maintain.

The wastewater holding tank is located directly beneath the V-berth, right next to the water tank and try as I might, there is still a slight residual odor wafting from that tank... all inspite of my best efforts to sanitize the thing and retire it in place. A port-o-potty is on my puchase list... it has less moving parts and is air-tight... that as well as a cedar-bucket for when I'm offshore.

I spent a whole day the previous week siphoning that tank dry with the dock waterwater siphoning hose... dumped half a bottle of bleach into the head as well. It was a vast improvement but nevertheless all it takes is a few drifting molecules to offend one's nasal passages.

Next on my list of things to do is to replace the gasket and other parts on the head and see if that helps. I've been sleeping out in the cockpit in the evenings... if for no other reason than for the cool breeze and to get as far away as possible from the unpleasant molecules.