Saturday, October 25, 2014

Paying It Forward - Book Giveaway #1

Wow, it's been a year and a half since I was so graciously awarded a slew of sailing related books from my friends at The Retirement Project.  Guess I must be reading at a first grade level...or at least speed.  Actually, I think I've just been too busy to find much time to read.  In any case, I've managed to make it part of the way through the collection.  So, in the tradition of cruisers helping cruisers and the book swaps often found at marinas (not to mention our downsizing efforts), it is time to pass those along.

The original book donors, The Retirement Project

So, here is part 1 of what I'm calling The Retirement Project Sailing Book Swap (yes, it is a giveaway).

What You Get

I'll call this the "Basic Boat Info" set, although it is not a strict theme.  The winner of this set will receive the following titles:
  • Cruising Catamaran Communique - Kanter - 2007
  • The Best Used Boat Notebook - Kretschmer/Sailing Magazine - 2007
  • Inspecting The Aging Sailboat - Casey - 2005
  • The Essentials of Living Aboard A Boat - Nicholas - 2005
  • Do Dolphins Ever Sleep - Bely - 2007
  • A Year In Paradise: How We Lived Our Dream - Watterson - 2001
  • One or two more surprise titles.

Da Rules

I would like to pass these books along to someone that is starting to prepare or seriously dreaming about going cruising.  So, to toss your name in the hat for this giveaway, tell me your story of why you would like the books.  I think it would be fun for people to hear about those of us following this cruising dream.  You will also need to promise to keep the  "tradition" going and pass the books along when you are done with them.  In a week or so I'll choose from the entries and send out the books.

Here are a few more details:

  • I would prefer that you post a comment to this post to enter the contest.  Please include a name but no e-mail addresses (you probably don't want the spam that could be generated by the web crawlers from a public posting of your email address).  If you are uncomfortable with commenting, you can also use the "send me an e-mail" form found on the right side of the blog page (but don't be surprised if I ask you if I can post excerpts from your email on your behalf).
  • Entries should be submitted by Wednesday, November 5th.
  • I will choose from the entries and post the winner on the blog within a few days of the date above, so give me some name or ID that you would like me to use to identify you.
  • I will contact the winner (or if I don't have contact information will ask the winner to email me) so we can arrange for the shipment.
  • I will ship the books to U.S. postal addresses for free.  If there are overseas entries, I will need to check on the costs to ship, as it may be cost prohibitive to ship to some overseas addresses.
  • The winner must agree to pass the books along to others once they are done with them in the spirit of cruisers helping cruisers.  This can be done via a blog contest like this, donated to a book swap or marina library, etc.  If possible, please provide credit to the original donors of the book, The Retirement Project (a worthwhile blog to put on your reading list if they aren't already there)...and I wouldn't object to a shout out as well.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you.  Good luck!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Tale of Two Holes

In case you haven't guessed yet, I'm back on our boat in Deltaville VA.  After the boat show, my wife and I came down to try and get some work done on the boat.  My wife flew back to our house earlier today (can't really call it home anymore...more of our things we intend to keep are  now on the boat) and I needed to take a break so I thought I would try to catch up on my blog writing.

Of course, right now even writing posts is a bit of a challenge.  One of the holes I mentioned in the title is the technology black hole of Deltaville.  The Stingray Point Boatyard, where Rover is currently on the hard, has internet access...but only if you are within about 2 feet of the office building.  Even my Wirie, that can pick up a number of locked signals in the area, can't get a reliable connection to their access point.  And forget about using my cell phone.  Unless you have Verizon (the most expensive wireless carrier in my experience) you are lucky to get any voice coverage and no 2G internet access.

So, sometimes I'll go sit on the chair in front of the office with my tablet in the evenings...until the mosquitoes chase me away.  Or I go to Patti's Diner, who has WiFi, to read some news, research my tasks, look for parts, and upload posts.

If atmospheric conditions are just right, I can occasionally get a local TV channel for news...but most of the time the digital TV is doing it's best Max Headroom impression.  It really is a technology/information black hole around here.  On the bright side, I guess I'm not getting barraged by all the political ads that are probably plaguing the country right now.

The other hole is a hole in the boat.  One of the tasks I left for the boatyard was the replacement of two through hull valves that were seized or otherwise inoperative.  After some other labor snafus and after reading about other Leopard boats that were having electrolysis issues with their through hulls, I decided we would take care of all the through hulls when we got back to the boat.

There's a hole in the boat dear Liza...
I ordered about a thousand dollars worth of bronze parts to replace all the through hulls such that they would arrive at the boat the same day we did.  When we got to the boat, I tried disassembling one of the through hull and seized valves and, as expected, corrosion had essentially welded the parts together.  So, out came the grinder and I was able to remove the entire through hull/valve assembly.  In the process of grinding out the through hull, I was able to determine that my bronze fittings weren't suffering from the same issues that others had experienced so I shouldn't have to replace all the other through hulls now.  So far, so good...but it is a boat so we know that will probably change.

Cut out through-hull and valve
And, it did.  I ordered the shortest through hull I could find and dry-fitting the new parts revealed that they simply would not fit.  The through hull itself is just too long and as a result the valve will not fit under the floor.  I tried all sorts of configurations but it just wouldn't work.  So, I decided we had nothing to lose and cut down one of the through hulls so it would fit.

Here is where we get into the semi-technical explanation of NPS and NPT threads.  Through hulls are typically NPS (straight) threaded so they will mate with nuts or seacocks and can clamp to any thickness of hull (a nut can spin all the way down the threads).  NPT is a tapered thread that only tightens so far before binding and forming a seal. Since there isn't enough clearance between the hull and the floor board, the Leopard through hull goes straight into a 90 degree elbow and then a valve is attached to it.  The elbows are only available with NPT (tapered pipe) threads.  Since many manufacturers are going to this configuration, some through hulls now have a combination thread so the very end of the through hull is NPT and the remaining thread is NPS.

By cutting down the through hull, I removed the NPT threaded end.  I knew this would likely be an issue, but didn't really have much of an option.  Now the elbow would only screw on about a turn and a half before the straight threads would bind in the NPT threaded elbow.  Not a safe option for something that, if it gives way, leaves a 1.5 inch hole in the bottom of the boat.  What I need is to be able to re-thread the through hull so it would again have the NPT tapered thread on the end.  In theory, this should be do-able.  In reality, not so much.  You see, pipe threaders apparently expect a long straight pipe to be inserted in them and the now 2.25 inch long through hull with the mushroom head on one end won't fit in any reasonable pipe threader.

I spent a good couple days trying to find options to get the tapered threads cut, but had little luck.  One machine shop in town said he could setup one of his machines to do it, but it would be several hours of labor to setup the machine and the cost was rather prohibitive...not to mention the hassle if when we ever need to replace the thing again and don't have access to a well equipped machine shop.

Doing a little more research, I found that most people that have had to deal with these through hulls have simply gotten rid of them.  The through hull is the direct discharge for the head and the boat is designed so you can direct discharge through the holding tank so it is somewhat superfluous.  And getting rid of a 1.5" hole in the bottom of the boat is generally a good thing, so I think we will be glassing over the hole and changing the plumbing.  Just wish I had decided this before I bought all the parts and replaced all the hose.

Hopefully I'll get the work that needs to be done finished soon, as the chill in the night air indicates I really need to be heading south.  Of course, with my wife back in Colorado, I need to see if I can find a hand with that task too.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Stack Pack

Just a quick post our new stack pack and matching genoa UV strip installed.  Wife wanted a high visibility color...that ought to work.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2014

So, what do you do the weekend after your estate sale?  Well, in our case, we headed out to the 2014 U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis Maryland.  The biggest sailboat show only happens once a year and we hadn't been in over two years so it was time to go.

This time our focus was quite a bit different than the last show.  If you recall, the goal of the last visit was to look at boats as we didn't yet own Rover.  This time we are boat owners and are now looking for things that we need or want.  My wife didn't have proper foul weather gear yet (waterproof gear that can take a wave isn't available in Colorado) and we could both use some decent sailing gloves. The laundry list of items that Rover needs (or we want her to have) keeps expanding too.  Solar and maybe wind power, water maker, more eco-friendly bottom paint, various interior and exterior cushions, a dodger, a better anchor, baskets of hardware, and maybe some toys like a kayak or SUP are all of interest. I also wanted to see a friend who lives on the east coast and since our broker Pete was at the show, wanted to see him too.

If you are shopping for a variety of items for your boat, a show like this is a real time saver as you can see a lot all in one place. We were able to check out most of the items we were interested in.  My wife was able to try on rain gear from several makers, and I was able to talk with several vendors about solar installs, bottom paints, etc.  We found an interesting nesting cookware set for the galley that seemed to be decent qality.  And we got to check out a few of the newer style anchors available today.  You could easily spend a LOT of money at one of these shows, so while it is nice to see all the newest and latest things, you do want to hold onto your wallet.

We did end up buying a few things at the show.  My wife now has some new Slam rain gear and we both have sailing gloves.  Since Rover needs a new dodger set and interior and exterior cushions, we had the idea we could make our own and picked up a Sail-rite sewing machine.  Sleeping at night is high on our desire list so we also bought a new Mantus anchor that we think will help when out on the hook.  Most of the items will be shipped, so I will let you know more about them once we have a chance to play with them.

Here is an interesting thing we discovered at the show.  We attended the last two days of the show this year.  Our first day at the show was the third day (if you count the VIP day), and I think most of the people working the booths were getting a bit worn down by that point.  We were having a bit of a hard time engaging some of the vendors to get information about their products.  Or maybe it was because the Sunday was the only nice weather day at the show.  Monday was the complete opposite.  There are no seminars on the last day of the show and it was a bit rainy so there were no crowds. We found it much easier to talk with the vendors that day. Some vendors were even offering additional discounts (probably not wanting to lug unsold product back to their trucks). This was the day we made most of our purchases.

Overall, it was a good show for us.  We acquired some stuff we needed as well as information we needed. And we might even have our first sponsor...we will see.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Estate Sale Day 3 - A Little Faith Restored

Sunday was the last day of our estate sale. We decided to do something we found fairly common in the estate sale business, we made Sunday a half-price day.  Most items, there were a very few exceptions that were specially marked, were half off the marked price. This doesn't necessarily get you a lot of cash per item, but it does help move a lot of stuff out the door that wasn't moving at the marked least that was the theory.

I think we were finally getting the hang of running the sale as it was our smoothest opening of the three days.  Signs were all out well before the start of the sale (we retrieved signs each night since there are people that will deface or remove signs...calling them street spam...and we didn't want to spend more money to replace the signs), we had time to walk the house and make sure everything was in order, and get an OK from everyone that we were ready to open. It also seemed like there wasn't quite as big of a rush on the Sunday and that helped.

Overall, I don't think it was as busy all day, but we still had good traffic (better than our typical garage sale).  One thing happened that day that helped restore a bit of faith in my fellow man.  A lady had come in on Friday and purchased a jewelry box.  She came back on Sunday to return all the jewelry that was apparently in the box.  She said the jewelry looked like family heirlooms and wanted to make sure we got it back.  Most of it didn't have sentimental value, but was real gold and silver and we appreciated getting it back.  We gave her one of the pieces as well as a stuffed animal one of her children liked as reward for her honesty and integrity.

While we didn't get rid of as much stuff as we would have liked (much of the nicer furniture remains), I think we did all right. If you recall, the estate sale companies thought we would gross between $7000 and $8000 leaving our cut at about $4500. The first day of the sale we made over $5000, the second and third days were a bit over and a bit under $1000 respectively. This put us right at what the companies thought we would get without taking the 40% loss and we still have a few big items to sell.

Would I do it again...well...that is still a good question and I don't know if I would.  But the past couple days we have spent a couple thousand dollars on the boat so it is nice having that extra money...but that is the subject for a couple other posts.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Estate Sale Day 2 - Continuing The Purge

Day two was a bit more organized than day one.  I started putting the signs out a full hour before the sale started...with an added note on the sign in front of the house that read "Open @ 10 am". When I got back, we had time to walk through the house and make sure things we didn't want to sell (or have stolen) were hidden away behind locked doors. There were a number of people waiting as we opened, but I don't think quite as many as the day before...which was a good thing.  Adding that all three of us were there for the start I think made it a bit less hectic.

Attendance was still pretty good for the second day of the sale.  I think it probably helped that it was a Saturday so all those with real jobs during the week could finally attend.  It is only a guess, but I presume more people stumbled across our signs than came because of the online ad after the initial morning rush.

We were able to sell a number of items that I originally wasn't sure we would one of our artificial Christmas trees, our patio furniture, a computer monitor, and a work desk. Sometimes it amazes me what sells and what does not sell.  Someone found our stash of a few garden tools we needed to keep to clean up the yard and asked if they could buy the cheap, broken, duct-taped-together leaf rake.  Someone else dug out our stashed half package of toilet paper that was guarded by a baby gate and a "Nothing for sale here" sign.

There didn't seem to be as many people that were rude in their negotiation efforts that day. On Friday we encountered several people that were obviously looking for things they could get cheaply so they could resell them on Ebay.  When they realized that we wouldn't sell a collectable item for 1/10 of its actual value (we were priced below typical market prices), we would get snotty comments on price (and the item would often sell for the marked price just a little later).

While we didn't recoup as many freedom chips as we did the first day, we did OK and managed to clear out a fair amount of stuff.  Unfortunately, some of the bigger items (furniture) do remain.  Wondering get if we will have to figure out another option for selling that.  One more day to go and the estate sale will be done.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Estate Sale Day 1 - Disappointment With Humanity

After getting to sleep at 4 AM, we awoke at 6 AM to prepare for the first day of the sale.  We make some coffee...a lot of coffee...and continue pricing things, moving items around, and actually creating the estate sale signs that you saw in the last post.  My wife makes a run to McDonald's to get us something to eat before the show started (not a great option, but about the only option we had for something quick that early in the morning).

I left the house about 20 minutes before the start of the sale to put up signs and there were already a couple of people parked outside waiting for the sale to start.  I ended up miscalculating the amount of time it would take to put all the signs up and I didn't return to the house until 20 minutes after the sale started.  When I returned it was a zoo.  Cars were lined up and down the street. Apparently advertising the sale on can bring in quite a crowd.  Hope it didn't bother my neighbors too much.

In our exhausted state, no one thought about doing a walk-through of the house before we opened the door.  As it turned out, I had left my laptop running so we could continue pricing items when I was distracted with making the sale signs.  It wasn't until someone tried to buy it that my wife realized it was still sitting out and rescued it.

Sales were very brisk throughout the day and we made a majority of the entire sale proceeds this first day.  We didn't even have time to stop for lunch (or even notice lunch time passed by).  The 60" LED flat screen TV, home theater with custom speakers, stainless steel gas grill, front loading washer, futon, one bedroom set, and other miscellaneous items were sold the first day.

Unfortunately it was not all good news.  Even though we had three people running the sale (the estate sale companies only planned on two), theft was an issue.  Two of us tried circulating through the house to answer questions and prevent theft but it apparently wasn't enough.  While I was busy demonstrating the home theater equipment to a buyer, I noticed that a rare CD collection (KBCO Studio C Box Set, numbered and one of only 200) was missing.  Later in the day we found a few boxes that used to contain items but only the empty boxes remained. And a few of these items were priced less than $1. The camera bag that went with a 35mm camera I was selling also walked away (I kind of wonder if it was used to smuggle the Box Set out).

One of the more disturbing things we found was discovered after the sale closed the first day.  In addition to the computer being left out, the old digital camera I was using to take pictures for the estate sale site was also left out.  The camera itself wasn't stolen, but the compact flash memory card was missing (you know the old, "big" by today's standards, cards).  Really?!?!  Why would someone take a 64 MB compact flash you can buy a 1 GB card for a little over $6?  Other than pictures of the sale, my wife had taken pictures of some of the items she was selling so she could remember them and now those are lost.

So, while we got rid of a lot of stuff and recouped a fair amount of our freedom chips, the thievery put a damper on our excitement. Guess I forgot that not all people are as good as most of the cruisers I've met.  All we can do is hope that karma catches up with the thieves one day.