Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Holidays 07

Just a quick note to say Happy Holidays to any who might read our blog.

We flew home to Michigan. I'm back already because of work and Jenny will be returning tomorrow. Susan, whom we purchased the Fitz from, watch our kitty cat for the week.

It was nice to be away for a bit, but it is nice to be back floating again!

Earlier today I ripped out most of the entire old head system. Despite being dirty work, it was kinda fun. Our airhead is backordered... sadly we are making many trips to the boathouse in the meantime. ah well... so it goes.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Old Man Winter

The first real snow finally fell last week! It was just barely a dusting, but at least it was snow.

Luckily, we had put the shrinkwrap up already and, as promised, here are some shrinkwrap pics. These first two are neato and they are of me with the blowtorch trying to tighten up the wrap the first evening after we had it on the boat.

A few pics of the finished product.

This one is just the smokestack for our little fireplace.

and then the full bologna.

It is a good thing we got the wrap up and tightened well because this past Thursday it snowed like all mad. It was awesome!

It was snowing so much and so fast that the snow landing in the very still marina waters was just turning to ice/slush and it looked pretty neat.

Not just neat, but very very pretty sometimes too.

In the meantime, some big Canadian destroyer came to visit. This was me trying to claim it as my own. They frown on that.

As a side note, our composting head is backordered 10 weeks :( Much to our dismay we will be improvising (and doing lots and lots of walking to the boathouse in the meantime). Ah well.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

new stuff! compost and tender

Hooray for new stuff!

My parents (Justin) chipped in some xmas money toward purchasing us a dinghy. As some of you may know, we like to spend time near the islands in the summer, but with no dinghy we can't get ashore. We just sit there a ways out and soak in the view. That is lovely, but we'd love the ability to go ashore. Hence we have pooled in with our parents and purchased a new Watertender 9.4

We haven't taken any photos ourselves yet, so those are all stock pictures. It is sad that it isn't quite dinghy weather out here right now, so the new boat is just floating around in the snow, hehe, but oh well, it will be FUN come spring. A new motor for it is next on the list.

In the meantime, old boats (aka, the Fitzcarraldo) have old parts. Sadly, the head (toilet) is one of them. Old things like to break down. Our current head system is an old VacuFlush system that no longer holds a vacuum seal. A lot of the fittings leak (gross and illegal) and its wiring has gone bad and causes it to draw extra current all the time (dangerous and battery draining). This has been on our list of things to fix ASAP. Well, we finally can't take it anymore. We ordered the toilet we have long been excited about (yeah, you get excited about weird things living on a boat). Anyhow, it is the "airhead" composting toilet system:

Again, these are all pictures from online that I have stolen for posting. Ours is in the mail and will be here in 7-10 days.

(warning, post gets a little gross from here on out) :)

It is an interesting system. Some people seem to absolutely LOVE it and some just hate it. Most heads have a holding tank in the bilge and some form of pump system that flushes everything down and keeps it in a big sewage slop til you can get pumped out. They tend to use chemicals to keep the smell down and water to assist the flushing process.

The airhead, is altogether different. It is supposed to be the "environmentally friendly" alternative toilet. It has two tanks built right into it which separate liquids from solids and then the solids get composted with peat moss via a mixing handle. The liquids you can dump overboard out at sea where it is legal and/or just dump into the real toilet at the boathouse. The solids simply get turned into dirt via the natural composting process. A vent hose with a small fan keeps the smell blowing to the outside of the boat in the meantime.

Supposedly, it is very odorless (it can't be worse than our current system--just ask any friends who have stayed over... our boat definitely has a certain funk to it--to be polite to ourselves). It uses no water and no chemicals. It is going to be way easy to install since I don't have to do any plumbing and very little electrical work.

In the meantime, our old system was installed overtop of an even older system! Yes, we have 2 holding tanks, two vacuum pumps and twice as much hose and junk running around our bilge as we need. It will be so NICE to get rid of all that extraneous junk. The old systems de-install will take far longer than the new system install.

All told, we are incredibly happy about this week's two new acquisitions. They will make living on a boat into a much better, smoother, and less stinky experience.

...and I can't wait to go fishing with the new dinghy--I can finally fish the rocky areas!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

interim post

I'll try to have a real post up soon. Life has been BUSY. My final papers are all beginning and I'm running short of free time. So just to keep you updated, we are completely shrink wrapped (ok, well it needs to be tightened up a bit more, but we're pretty well there). We built a shrink wrap frame for our friend Susan (the woman whom we purchased the Fitz from). We've discovered "Cowboy Brand" hardwood lump charcoal as the best and longest burning fuel for our fire heater. It was 23 outside earlier today with 40 mph wind gusts and it was 72 in the boat with only the fire and some fans going. I'm sure the sun on the shrink wrap helped that, but it is still darn nice.

So really we've been busy with lots of this fun stuff.

Our engines are still not winterized, which is only slightly concerning because as long as we keep a heater in the engine compartment (which we are doing) they should be fine, but I need to get on that one soon.... just in case the power goes out.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

sailors, waifs and strays

A fellow marina member, Nicola, was kind enough to invite us to visit her house in Marblehead for her annual "sailors, waifs and strays" Thanksgiving dinner.

Jim, another liveaboard, was also going so we were lucky enough to get a ride from him.

We arrived in Marblehead around 3pm, and took a walk around for about an hour. It is a gorgeous place. We would have walked longer, but smells of Thanksgiving meals were lingering in the air, so we went back to Nicola's and had a wonderful meal.

This is the only picture I got of Nicola, the fantastic host. I think she was making faces with one of the children.

Well, that's all for now!


Saturday, November 17, 2007


Pellets burn very, very fast. Because of this, we decided to try a recommendation from a marina friend to try coal in our solid fuel stove. After 48 hours (about 30 of these spent in front of the fire, trying new tactics) we seem to have found a happy medium with the pellets and coal burning. The coal was hard to start and burns slow, but it also dies easily and randomly, and the combination seems like quite a brilliant discovery on our part.

In the meantime, we've had a lot of boat projects.

I finally finished our curtains. The back windows are enormous, and covering them for the winter might actually help us keep the heat in. It is a nice change, because previous to this, we didn't have 100% privacy. The curtains I had hung in the back were see through, and now that we're on a more trafficked dock, we are happy to be able to close ourselves in.

We've been staying warm another way....FOOD. The stove gets everything nice and warm in here, and we're all (Justin, Gollum and I) working on getting an extra layer of fat to keep us warm.

We don't fancy the idea of sinking, as that would NOT be a warm experience. Diver Dan is the man to call to change our zincs, which keep our boat rust-free and happy. It was about 45 degrees outside all day, and the water temperature seems to be about 48 degrees. This was right before he jumped in to change the zincs. We could hear his bubbles while he was under, and this was possibly the most amazing sound I've ever heard in my life.

Gollum isn't sure what to think of the cold weather, but she loves Aunt Pat's blanket and keeps wrapping herself up in it.

Ahh, the flames.

We have been taking insane amounts of trips to Home Depot in friends cars lately to purchase this and that. Today, we spent our time and money on a few stove related projects. Here, you can see the new aluminum sheets that we put down on the floor to save our carpeting. We've already dropped a couple of hot pellets and made a few small burn holes, so the sheets should prevent that and keep us a bit safer. You can also see the new cement board/firewall backing which will keep the bulkhead cooler.

I also made the screen that is sitting on the port side of the picture (haha). I noticed the amount of heat we could feel when we had the door of the heater open, but didn't want sparks to fly out. The screen seems to be working great so far. I doubled it up so that it gave the sparks less of a chance to fly out.

This, in essence, is all sources of heat on the boat. You can see the wood/pellet/coal stove, the coals, the pellets, and the space heater.

Sometimes I have to get a bit closer to feel the full effects of the fire. You can see the new damper that we installed in this picture.

Hot, hot heat.

The screen in use.

We currently have no indoor thermometer, so I have no idea what the temperature is, but I can say that we're keeping it much warmer in here than the outdoor temp. We have a few fans running (the built in fan, a fan from my parents, and a space heater fan...without the heat) and the coals/pellets are keeping us nice and toasty!!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

flue the coop

Yes. It is finally here.

As the above picture shows, we have a bulkhead in our main salon with a full length mirror on it. This is pretty much right as in the center of the room/boat as one can get, so I hung the heater on some crossbars on brackets to either side of the mirror. I think that tomorrow I am going to get an extra piece of steel to go between the heater and the wood hanging brackets I made. These pics are just of the quick-fix setup I have so that we can test the thing out.

The cat seemed impressed during the install phase

This picture is of me lighting it for the first time. Unfortunately all did not go splendidly well. As it turns out the flue (aka: chimney stack) is way too tall and straight for such a little woodstove. In other words our boat is too tall for it. What it caused was a gigantic roaring fire with massive amounts of suction pulling the flame about 2 feet up into the chimney. There are no pictures of this incident because we were too busy freaking out and trying to put the huge fire out. Haha, silly boaters in their floating tinder box. Well, luckily it seems to be an issue I can fix pretty easily. We just have to go to a woodstove store tomorrow and buy a flue damper so that we can close down the updraft a bit and keep the fire from taking in so much air. I certainly hope that this does the trick. We'll be awfully bummed if it doesn't. If not though, there are a couple tricks I have up my sleeve to make it calm down a bit. Lesson learned: less air flow = slower burning, more manageable fire that can get nice and toasty; more air flow = giant raging mad fire that burns all our pellets away instantly and never gives much real heat.

In the meantime though (it was Sunday so woodstove shops were all closed) we were able to make some little bitty fires in it just to play with it. It would burn up all the wood in a matter of minutes, but still fun to play with while we can't do much else.

In the meantime though, we found this amazing thing called an ecofan. Basically it is a fan that is entirely metal, not electric or anything, but runs off of the heat generated from a woodstove. You set it on your stove and the heat causes the two different metals in the fan to create an electric current and thus powering itself. We've found great reviews on them and will likely be purchasing one to help push our stove heat around the boat. Of course, we have to get the stove working properly first.

So overall, we are happy with the stove, just needing to do some chimney work to get it tweaked a bit better first.

Oh, and just in case you wanted one, here is a picture of our pumpkin from Halloween :)

We'll update more as we get along in the heater proper-install phase, hehe. Also I'll try to get some pics of the shrinkwrap frame etc up. Going to try to shrink it up next weekend or perhaps the one after. Depends when we can borrow a heat gun and some labor help.


Friday, November 9, 2007

wood and screws

The shrink wrap frame is built! photos coming soon. Heater is supposed to arrive tonight!

Monday, November 5, 2007

November kicks in

So the heater STILL isn't in. It is killing us. I have all the chimney stacks for it just waiting here. Lets just hope they fit properly when it is install time. Electric heat is sufficing in the meantime.

Hurricane Noel came through out at the Cape on Saturday and it was supposed to create a "major nor'easter" here. All it did was drizzle all day. What a disappointment. We were all hoping for some exciting rough weather. Oh well, careful what you wish for I suppose.

Halloween came and went in the meantime. We carved up a little bitty pumpkin. Perhaps one of us will get the picture up here later.

Other than that, not much has been going on.

Lots of rum.... and homework, somehow.

Monday, October 29, 2007

a chill in the air

woo, got down to 35 deg F last night.... our first taste of chill on the boat. It was kinda nice though. Seems like winter is taking so long to set in that I was happy for some sorta cold weather. Our pellet heater has been delayed for anyone wondering how that is going. The new word is that it will be here tomorrow! I hope so. We are freakin geeked for that thing, haha!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

recap of the months previous

After a wonderful summer on E dock, we moved in toward shore on B dock. It was a very bittersweet moment, but here we are, next to our winter neighbors. It feels good to have a new view of the city, but very sad because this marks the last time we'll take the boat out for the season (probably, anyway).

In light of the move, I wanted to post a review of the season in pictures, beginning with the winter boat show.

Justin carving the sign for the name of the boat. This was when we were still living on land.

We took quite a few trips out to the marina where the boat was docked, not knowing that this same marina is where we would be staying ourselves.

This was one of our first encounters with the lovely pug, Jack.

This is how the boat looked when we bought it....shrink wrapped with a plywood door.

We spent one of the last evenings of April on the was our first night aboard! That night, we cut holes in the top of the shrink wrap so we could stay up for awhile to see the amazing view of the city. In the morning, we woke up bright and early and took the rest of the shrink wrapping off, so we could start moving our things in.

A week or so later, our boat moved to its new slip - out on the end of E. The cormorants were spending a lot of time on the docks. I imagine the water was cold and they were warming up.

Sometimes, we got bored...

But that was before we started taking the boat out to the islands, Salem, up the river, etc.

And then we got engaged...(well, that night we did...)

Jack and Jess came over for taco night...mmm...tacos.

We went to Spectacle Island with my parents.

Somewhere along the way, the cat learned how to take pictures of herself...

Now, we are on B dock and getting used to having so many neighbors. The great thing is that a bunch of our neighbors have liveaboard dogs. Meet Salty:

The view from our new slip.

Now we just have to hope we can stay warm and dry this winter. Wish us luck!