Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cork flooring!

After sanding the floors, Al began to apply wood trim around all hatches, and onto all the hatch covers.  This will protect the cork tiles from damage of removing and replacing the hatch covers.

Here Al is applying the very first of the cork tiles.

Here are the two largest hatch covers in the main cabin, as they will lie together.  If you note the hole in the big one, don't worry.  Some sort of decorative but functional trap-door pull will be installed there.

I am SOOOOoooooo excited to see this progress!  Don't you think it is turning out beautifully?!  Al is at the boat as I write, putting the final coat of varnish on the trim around the hatches.  Tomorrow he may begin laying tiles on the boat.  Once all the tile is laid there will be a top coat sealer to apply, and at that point we should not walk on it for at least three days--the reason this project must be completed before we move aboard.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Life is like a roll of toilet paper.....

Yesterday morning, Al was sitting with his computer on his lap and he read to me:  Life is like a roll of toilet paper--the closer you get to the end, the faster it rolls!'

Now, I had heard this saying before, mainly in context of birthday cards for people 'of a certain age'.  But apparently Al hadn't heard it before and thought it was funny.  And it is, mainly because it is true!  And I responded 'I thought it was the title for another blog post!'

Well, he wasn't writing a post, but through the day, the more I thought of it, I thought it SHOULD be the title of a blog posting.

We ARE nearing the end of life as we know it, and time is rolling away from us faster and faster and FASTER!  Al is experiencing great anxiety.  It is unusual for Al to sleep well anyway, but he seems to be experiencing more difficulty than usual recently.  He is feeling the great burden to finish a couple of very important projects, which are taking a bit longer than he expected, what with parts ordered not arriving in a timely fashion.  Still, he allowed three weeks of cushion time, and we STILL have all that time available to us.

Part of the pressure is that he needs to do most of the boat work on his own.  I just don't have the physical strength, or the knowledge to be of  large help.  I follow him around with the vacuum cleaner, fetch tools, and try to organize.  He wanted me to clean out the overhead storage at our slip, but I couldn't even do that!  I told him, 'It ALL looks like junk to me!  I'd be happy to haul stuff, but YOU need to sort through it first.'  Which he did.

He thought the floor project would take a week to 'prep', but it has been two.  However, progress IS being made, and it is looking like it will be beautiful!  He should begin actually applying tiles today.  I am excited!

But time keeps rolling faster and faster.  We have less than a month now to move the remaining of our worldly possessions out of the apartment and garage and onto the boat, somewhere!  I still don't know where most of it will go, but Al says 'Don't worry!'  So when Al frets about his projects, I say 'Don't worry!'

Recently I began listening to a different radio station.  My favorite station is no longer my favorite since they disbanded the morning crew I had loved for so long.  I no longer drive to work in the morning, so I probably wouldn't have listened to them much anyway, but now I am listening to a station that plays popular music, of a generally more 'restful' nature.  This has been Al's station of choice for quite some time.

Also, I have a quite active dream life.  I have said, but haven't done yet, that I need to put a notebook by the bed and journal my dreams.  Well, lately, I have been waking up with songs running in my head.  And today it was a song by R.E.M.  It ties well with the title of this blog post.  The main lyrics of the song are filled with chaos, but the refrain goes:

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.

That end is in sight, but we have a LOT of chaos to deal with yet.  But the song ends like this:

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine...fine.
(It's time I had some time alone)

Our life IS this song right now--filled with chaos!  And in sight is the end of the world as we know it.  But it will end with feeling fine, and spending some time alone.  
I know it will be good.

Friday, March 26, 2010

When things go BOOM! and nope, that was not us…

This morning started as usual, slow wake up, coffee,  breakfast - pancakes this time.  I did some final patching on the floor panels in the garage, and we were off to the boat around 10ish.  After  a Starbucks stop I got a call from a slip mate of mine ‘Do you know what is going on?’  No, we did not.  But when we got there we knew it must be biggish.

There were 3 police cars (marked ones), 2 Fire command vehicles, and 2 news trucks.  Plus about 5-6 other vehicles I did not recognize.  Long story short:  Folks are OK, and a new (to them) boat is at the bottom of the river.

Seems after fueling and while starting one of the engines the boat exploded.

Exploded big time.

Like, people in the water, windows broken everywhere, siding ripped off, boat a fiery hulk drifting down the river.

Some news links:

Only guessing now, but suspect while fueling fumes from the gas accumulated in the bottom of the boat – and when they went to start the motor BOOM!

Now, for those not of the Marine experience, this is one of the big fears of boaters.  See, in  a car if there is a gas leak, it leaks to the ground.  And given that gasoline vapors are heavier than air, in a car those vapors also fall out the bottom of the car onto the ground.  A boat however is by design closed on the bottom (err, kind of helps keep the water out), so gas vapors just accumulate in the bottom of the boat.

There are three basic things done to reduce the change of BOOM. 
  •          Special parts:  Carb, starter, distributer, alternator, etc.  All are designed specially to reduce fuel leaks / fumes into the boat, but also  with special flash screens to contain any spark to inside the device – idea is to try and keep any spark to a small boom, instead of getting out into the boats itself and become a Big BOOM.  However, it is not unknown for someone to just go to their local auto parts store to get a new starter for $45 instead of paying $245 for the ‘marine’ starter.  The Auto one will not have the special flash screens….
  •          Ventilation and blowers.  Boats will have fans that are to be run before starting the motor, specifically to remove any vapors.
  •          The operator’s nose!  In the USPS we teach to ‘pull the hatch’ and sniff the bilge, esp after fueling.

Now it is too early to know exactly what went wrong, but something did and the results could have been much worse than they were. 

Viking Star does not have a gas motor, it uses Diesel.  Diesel will not go BOOM.   In fact, if you drop a lit match into a pool of diesel, it will snuff out the match (I have done this several times while lighting the diesel stove).  So, we have a little less to worry about.  However, we do use Propane for the cooktop, and that gas will go BOOM, so we are not totally out of the woods.

It is hard to see something like this happen to someone.  And harder to know they are hurting this evening.  And we already have the talk about ‘I am luck to be alive’ as shown on the videos.  What is not shown is Gary had been doing this for many years now, and has a pattern.  Had he done his normal pattern, he would have been at the bow of the boat and likely hit in such a way as to not be talking this evening.  For some reason THIS time he did not follow his normal habit, was in a different place relative to the boat, and seems it saved his life.  I know my thought on that, will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Here is a photo of one of the folks on the boat,  I understand he fared the best.  Also on the left side is our pickup claiming its 30 seconds of fame.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Its been a year..

Or a year and a couple of months to be a bit more accurate, but we can call it a year since That Day.  In that year a few things have changed: we sold the house, gave away almost all our possessions, worked hard to get the boat in a more livable condition, and moved forward.  So, what has it been like this last year+?  A few thoughts.

Biggest change?  Time:  Kristi and I have much more time together.  We go for walks together, shop together, movies, coffee, most everything together.  Our mornings are relaxed – we get up, have coffee, make breakfast, watch some TV and check the internet.  Unless we have something pressing planned we get going by 9 or sometimes 10.  I am fortunate to have someone I love to spend time together with.

Fear: Personal Economic Fear – like it or not, Money is a core commodity in ones life.  We are all living through the most severe economic downturn that I have ever known, and by most accounts the worst one since the Great Depression.  The fall before That Day, Kristi and I had settled on a plan – dump the house and move to the boat.  Even so, we were not in a great space.  Unemployment helped some, getting out of the house helped a LOT.  Over the past year my consulting job has helped, and the investments have done well. (the Financial Hail Marry looks to be a success!).   This was not my 1st time being laid off (hazard of High tech I suppose), and I do remember sharing with folks that I had faith things would work out.  Looking back over my short life I can see that when I had a need, it was filled in some way (and not just Financial needs BTW), so I was taking Faith in that things would work out. I am fortunate to have a belief system which allows me to have Faith, that I am being watched over and was not alone in all this.

Boat:  It always surprises me how slow things move in the boat.  Sure, a lot has been done,  still she is not done.  Maybe this has something to do with the getting going by 9 or 10 thing!  Even so I am mostly happy with the progress to date.  A bit concerned about the excess weight on the nose; perhaps can adjust the ballast some to compensate.  She is getting close, I am fortunate to have a worthy craft and some level of skill to be able to make desired changes to her.

Family:  We have seen the Children get a year older and wiser, along with us it seems J.   Grand Kids get a year older and wilder!   Family work through Cancer, accidents, illness.  And some showing signs of an additional year more than others.  (I did hoist a Pint to my God Mother this Saint Paddy’s day…)  Some have had it tougher than others;  in the end we have one more Family member as a year ago.   Actually  more if we count extended family!  And all are finding a way to make it through the days.  I am fortunate to be connected with a diverse group of folks -- we are not meant to be alone.

Anxiety:  OK, this one is more about the last 10 years then the last year.  We are about one month from Pulling the Plug, and despite having worked towards this goal for a long time it IS a big change.  And there is STILL a lot to get done on the boat.  So I find myself anxious at times.  But then I remember this is not a final change, we can always choose to take a slip in the future, or even – awk  –  some other larger change.  I remember that no matter what, things will work out. There will always be some way to accomplish the rest of the projects on the boat; it just might be less convenient getting materials and supplies.  This is about the Journey, not the destination.  Or maybe a journey is a series of destinations, or, well, something like that.  In the end I am excited to be making this last transition, am sure will get the Anchor and Cork installed in time, and mostly:  I am fortunate to have someone I love to take this journey with.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The missing is FOUND!

The box containing a 'chain stripper' and new seals with which to rebuild the windlass, and for which Al has been searching for for weeks, has been found!

Part of the problem is that we have moved our 'stuff' several times over the last 9 months.  So Al (and I) had searched, multiple times, through EVERYTHING in the boat, the apartment, the garage, and even the small overhead storage at the marina.

Perfect timing!  Al found it Tuesday (in it's box, which was inside another box) and yesterday picked up the new anchor platform that was being fabricated specially.  Now he can reassemble the windlass, install the anchor platform, and attach the anchors again--a VERY important system to have on a boat!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Yes, I'm still 'on board'!

It has been a long while since I have made a written contribution to this blog, so I thought I should post something to let you know that I am still around!

Al does the majority of the work on the boat, so of course he is proud to be showing and telling of all the progress.  And I am proud of him too.  The boat is getting more and more comfortable, and I am getting more anxious to begin full-time life aboard.

The new formica has gone a LONG way to dressing the boat up.  For a long time, the boat has felt to me like more of an 'old camper', with chipped and stained counters and table, sinks with epoxy and paint, and leaky faucets.  Now there is a beautiful marble-look formica that matches throughout.  The sinks have been removed, cleaned and polished, and reinstalled.  And finally!  I have a mirror larger than 2X2!  The new medicine chest has been installed over the aft sink station.

My work continues mainly as an opinion-giver, go-fetcher, and a cleaner-of-messes.  I have said, the boat is a wood shop. I am getting tired of the insidiousness of saw dust!

But lots of projects are being completed!  One big one, that I am looking forward to greatly, is the new flooring.  The cork should arrive sometime this week.

Al has been working on the fronts for all those drawers you have seen 'curing' in our apartment living room.  The drawer pulls are waiting in a package at my daughter's house for us to pick up.  So in a week or so, we can put the drawers IN and begin filling them.

That is one thing I continue to worry about:  HOW are we going to get all that is our apartment and garage onto the boat, and PUT AWAY?  Recently when I noted to Al 'I have been worrying...'  he said 'Again?!'  He's got a plan, and I remember how he basically moved the whole household of stuff last June by himself.

He works well on his own, but give him a deadline, and he usually gets the job done!  And that's just what he's done, especially since we set the dates.  He is just plugging away, and I'm cleaning up. And doing a little bit of cheerleading.  Yay Al!  Go Al!