Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Al's Workshop

For the past eight years, as soon as Christmas Ships and the Holidays are over, it is Project Time on the boat.  In the past, Al would use the dining table as a work bench.  BUT one of last year's projects was to install pretty new formica on said table, kitchen counters, and bathroom counters.  Which means he should  no longer sand, paint, glue, solder, epoxy, etc. on the table, and since he's intelligent, he won't.  Besides, the table is now a desk of sorts, which is occasionally used for dining.

Al is using an area of the boat that has served at a work bench before, but never so extensively during the Winter---the roof of the aft cabin.

Al is a little bit Absent-Minded Professor, muttering and talking to himself.  'Where are my glasses?  This should go here......or would it be better there?  I'll have to think about that.  Now, where did my pencil go?  Geez, it's cold out here....'  But this project has him looking a bit more Mad Scientist!  Look at all those pipes and gauges!  Though I haven't heard any evil laughter, yet.

And this will fit right here!

The soldering station

Every mad scientist needs a torch!

This project is in preparation of installing the hydronic heating system, with a Hurricane boiler.  Probably won't be working soon enough to be of much benefit this season, but will be greatly appreciated when we go 'up North' for the next 3-5 years.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Love Letter

My husband reaches the 50 Year milestone today.  He does not wish to 'celebrate' this fact, but I want to acknowledge that I am glad he was born!

I read recently that women should buy their own presents, and ask their husband for a love letter now and then.  That seemed like good advice, but how can I ask my husband for something I haven't given to him?  So, my birthday present to my husband is a love letter.

Why make it so public?  Because love should never be hidden.  And we declared publicly, before God, family and friends on 5-5-2002 that we loved each other and were committed to a marriage, together.

So, what is it that I love about this man?

I love his sense of adventure.  I love that he has had this dream of living on a boat, and has worked so hard and so long to see this dream come true, and that he wants to share that dream and experience with me.

And he has accomodated MY dream of travel.  San Francisco, Europe, Minnesota, Hawaii, Niagra Falls and Macinac Island, San Juans, Seattle.  Air, Land and Sea.

I often say jokingly that 'I married a little boy!'  This is NOT at all said in the 'oh, grow up' attitude.  I love Al's delight in the simple things.  Dark chocolate, a cat's purr, sunrise or sunset, a good beer, a friend's company.

His strong desire, NEED for approval, keeps him trying so hard.  That's another reason for me writing this 'letter'--I too often criticize, and I know this, and want to SAY what I appreciate.

He gives great hugs.  He holds me tightly, and is strong enough to lean on.  He keeps me warm in the cold, and I love to lie next to him.

Al is very intelligent, and loves to share his knowledge.

Though frugal, he is generous.  He is always willing to help in any way he can, friend OR stranger.

Al is my Golden Retriever-- loyal, tolerant, and happy-go-lucky.

And not last of all, but perhaps most of all, I love that Al attends church with me.  I often feel closest to Al when I feel closest to God, in church or out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Viking Star Average Energy usage Comparison

OK, just could not let it go.  What is our ‘impact’ to the world now that we have downsized greatly?  How does Viking Star's energy consumption compare to an average American?  Where would we fit into the World?

On the plus side, we are vastly smaller than before.  Moving from our 4,000+ square foot house, to a 400 or so square foot living space on Viking Star accounts for a large reduction right off the bat.  However, the build standards between a 1990’s house and a 1960’s boat are a bit different J   As with the Land Dwellings, heating is by far the largest consumer of energy.  And on Viking Star, heat losses are much greater than even modest constructions on land.  Wall insulation, where present, is about 1” of foam.  Overheads have R 9.8 thanks to the addition of foam (and it makes a HUGH difference), but the Windows are all single pane glass.  And there are numerous air infiltration points around the doors and other places,  some of these being intentional to provide air circulation and reduce mold / rot potential. 

All told, heating Viking Star is not that efficient per square foot, but there are not too many square feet to heat!


Doing a quick comparison of living space.  In 2010, Viking Star used:
  • 579 Gallons of Diesel
  • 10 Gallons of Gasoline
  • 10 Gallons of propane
  • 1140 KWh of  Electricity

Converting this all, we come up with around 86 million BTUs of energy for 2010.  How does this compare to national averages?  .  If we look at the Pacific region, we can see an average of 140M BTUs.  About 40% less!  This chart was constructed from data by the DOE:  http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/iea/Notes%20for%20Table%20E_1c.html   

How does this compare to World Wide usage?  1st we need to note that World Wide usages tend to include not only household, but also transportation.  On Viking Star, we are a little mixed as our largest transportation cost IS moving the household.  And how do we estimate public Transportation burdens?    If we bump our ‘estimated’ energy use up to account for additional time underway (See prior post), but take out the Dock Side Electricity, our overall energy usage comes to around 115M BTUs.  Still well under the household average.   Maybe we ‘bump’ it up to 150M BTUs to account for public transportation we use, or about 75M BTUs per person.  Even with this figure, making comparisons to overall sources ala:  http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1c.xls  is hard as the overall views tend to include TOTAL energy use, household, transportation, and industrial.  How can we account for how many BTUs of energy went into that potato we had for dinner?   Not sure.  Will point out that the 335M BTUs / person for the USA is a lot more than our estimated 75M for Kristi and me.  Perhaps will find another source to make a better comparison.  Till then, will just have to settle that we use about ½ the energy per household. And with our ‘transportation’ energy useage dramatically lower, or will be once we relocate north, our overall energy footprint is dramatically lower.

Welcome back Dickinson, and Energy Usage for the year.

The past few days it had been unseasonably warm here due to what is called the Pineapple Express - where the Jet Stream over the eastern Pacific dips way down towards the equator, and then turns and points right at the Pacific Northwest!   Warm (high 50’s, even touching 60!) and LOTS of rain!   It had been warm enough that even with the Dickinson stove turned all the way down, we still had to open doors to keep the main cabin in the low 80’s.   So I turned off the stove and we relied on a single electric space heater.

Kristi was not totally happy; she has gotten to enjoy the benefits of the Stove.  And yesterday was noting that with it off for just a couple of days the moisture was starting to show in the boat (windows fogging from showers and cooking, sweat showing on surfaces in the lower / cooler areas).  Well, today we are into the high 40’s, with the trend towards mid.  So time to light the stove again!

This, plus a conversation with Dan, got me to thinking about Viking Star's overall energy usage.  How much have we used?  What has been our cost (for a POWER boat vs. a ’proper’ cruising Sail boat J ), and perhaps how does this compare with our energy usage in our past life?

Overall Energy usage.  From December 24, 2009 and December 13, 2010 we put on 501 gallons of Diesel at an average cost per Gal of $2.82, per the Ships Log.  This was almost a full year, but we did do a few more days of Christmas Ships, plus 9 more days of heating to get a 24th to 24th range.  Bumping the actual fuel usage by 2 gal/day for heater, and 1.5 GPH for motor brings our estimated totally 2010 Diesel usage to 579 gallons.  Figuring in estimates for the Generator, this yearly total breaks down to:

Dickinson Stove:  154 Gals
Generator:            35 Gals   (est 140 hours using 0.25 GPH)
Main Motor:         390 Gals  (300 Hours gives 1.3 GPH)

We moved Viking Star a lot more this year than prior years.  That is not really unexpected given we stated our Full Time Cruising life style.  Saying that, we also did not start moving until May.  So we can ‘expect’ our total motor usage to go up to perhaps 450 hr/year in the future.   Am pleased to see us come in under the 1.5 GPH estimate for the main motor I have been using.  But then a large part of the trip to the Snake was around 5.5 to 6 kts, as opposed to our normal 7 kts cruise speed.  Finally, we took on 10 gals of Gas for the Dinghy and Honda generator. And filled the propane bottles once.

So, what does this all mean?   Well, directly we used $1,633 of Diesel (estimated for the whole year), $40 of Gas, perhaps $40 of Propane,  and $160 of electricity (for those months we were still at the Dock) giving us a total estimated Energy Cost for 2010 of $1,873.   Bumping up for a Full year of Cruising, we are looking at $2,000, or even $2,5000 - $3,000 with tomorrow’s cost of Energy. 

How does this compare to what we used to pay when being Land Dwellers?  Well, in 2008 (last full year we were in the house in Oregon) we paid $1,952.74 in Natural Gas and Electricity.  About what it cost us on the Boat in 2010.  However, remember that we did not often have an opportunity to move our house from one place to another ;-) 

Note that I am not including Automobile usage in any of this.   Auto gas usage varied on where we were currently located, and how many Grand Kid trips were made.  Going forward this will be reduced greatly when we sell the car, I it is MUCH less then what we use to pay when in the Real World.

Energy is expensive.  And it is clear that creating Energy on the Boat is costly – Energy and Water are two VERY precious resources we watch closely (that would be on the Suck side of the F2S ratio).  In a future post perhaps will break this down some.   Till then, the Stove is starting to feel WARM and it is time for Breakfast.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Same Day, Evening Photos

See how the ramp appears quite flat

Love the cross in the sky, the colors, the reflections, parallel lines and angles

View to the east from the ramp

High Water

It has been raining heavily for the past few days.  The climb up the ramp is not so steep, and I noted yesterday that the pilings at our moorage were only sticking out about 3 feet above the roof.  Last night's news showed flooding on local creeks and at the coast.

This morning when I emerged from my cocoon the first thing I noticed was the color of the water.  So I turned around and looked at the pilings compared to the roof, across the fairway:

Another view, this one from Viking Star, looking up to OUR roof and pilings.  AIR!  Don't worry, there is no danger of floating away, unless the waters rise another 25 feet or so.  It came close in 1996, though.  The river nearly breached the dike, which would flood the PDX airport, in addition to releasing many marinas.

And now a shot to show the water color.....

I sent my family an email update last night, noting the flooding creeks, and said it would get worse before it got better.  I just didn't expect to SEE so much of a change, right here, so soon.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Moving Batteries, Take Two

Thank you, Pastor Dan, for once again coming to help haul batteries!

We all took a moment to wonder when exactly the big boys were installed, and we narrowed it down to sometime after Christmas Ships ended (Dec 2009) and April 2010, when we moved aboard full-time.  Ha Ha!  I looked up the posting, and it is nearly a year to the day!  http://mvvikingstar.blogspot.com/2010/01/bringing-on-big-ones.html

Al ended that post by saying that if anything went wrong with the batteries, he would be selling the boat.  Weelllll, nothing is technically wrong with the batteries, BUT that amount of weight so near the bow, WITH the beefy anchor platform Al built, AND the 75-lb anchor hanging on it, with 400 feet of 3/8inch HT chain made our boot stripe disappear!  Also, our sloping table sloped even more, and there was a definite list to starboard.

Al determined that moving the batteries to the lazarette would be best and has been busy building a new box and pulling wires in preparation. Again, my main duty was photographer, and gofer.

First in line

Block and tackle helps, but they are still HEAVY!

Yes, the tongue in cheek helps with concentration.

Down she goes.

THERE'S that boot stripe again!  You can see by the scum-line that it had been below water for quite awhle.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Catching Up

What have we been doing?  Well, not posting to the blog for one thing....

Latest you saw, we were pulling wires and Al was preparing to move the batteries.  That will hopefully be accomplished very soon, perhaps tomorrow or Saturday.  Al has installed some shelves under the nightstands and is now milling some wood to begin work on the second head.

Today, I am thankful for the warmer weather!  I have not enjoyed what I came to call 'my own personal Polar Bear Club' --the morning shower.  During the cold snap around Thanksgiving, I brought a thermometer down to the nightstand, and was not surprised to find it read 50 degrees.  That cold weather returned for an extended engagement recently.  A down comforter makes sleeping quite cozy, but we also shower in that same thermal zone.  A space heater does not help a whole lot, since even warm air blown on wet skin feels quite cold!

Other things we have done since the first of the year:

  • Al volunteered to not only serve on a committee for Christmas Ships, but to chair
  • Two dental appointments, so far
  • Celebrate with friends Mark and Carol Balcom their 50th Wedding Anniversary
  • Go on the Portland Spirit for the dinner cruise they put on for Christmas Shippers
  • Watch the Oregon/Auburn ball game with our Best Man and his girl
  • Several opportunities to visit with kids and grandkids
Today, the pump is running to fill the tank for the stove.  The water tank needs to be filled.  And grocery shopping needs to be done.  Al has done some investigating as to why the food in the fridge is freezing, and the ice cream is melting in the freezer.  He may need to take the thermostat out and visit local shops for assistance.  But first, I am enjoying my coffee.