Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cost to Cruise: A year in review

It has been 1 year that we have been ‘Full Timers’ in this Cruising thing, so is time to do that classic Yearly review.

When planning for this we had hoped to be in the $25-35K/year range, and still believe that is possible. However for this 1st year we spent almost $43K for the year. (Please note our ‘reported’ expenses do not include 1) Gifts given – e.g. Family, and 2) expenses directly reimbursed via Al’s job, ala Air fare when traveling). Where did we go wrong? Well, perhaps nowhere. Kristi and I tend to live our lives as we wish, shopping as we can, and enjoying life as it comes. We are both rather conservative in our approach to life, but up to now have not needed to live under a closely watched spending limit. So, the $43K is kind of how we would live ‘unrestrained’.Here is a 12 month picture of our expenditures.  Click on the image to get a larger view.

1st full year - Click on image for larger view

  Some areas of note?
  1. Medical: The largest expenditure % of all categories. IMHO, medical care in the US is so broken – simply looking at costs vs. effectiveness compared to other 1st world nations - we should be so ashamed. So, it is no wonder 23% of our expenses went to routine preventive medical – lord help us if we were actually sick.
  2. Groceries: Next largest at 19%. We attribute this to three points:
    • We tend to shop at smaller stores, those within walking distance. No more Winco;  it is lots of Safeway’s
    • We eat healthier – hard to imagine, but fresh produce and good cuts of meats cost more.
    • Wine and Liquor. OK, here we are enjoying life :-)

    Yes could cut back here. The reported ‘Living Wage’ allocation in San Juan County for food is: $410/mo for two adults. We exceed that by $265, and we could cut back  to meet that. But then, this same report placed medical at $196, so perhaps we had best look into how that is accomplished…
  1. Dining Out: Mostly this is, again, us enjoying life – Mostly coffee shops. We tend to not go out for dinner, which would cost even more.
  2. Moorage: Well, if we didn't pick up moorage we would have no opportunity to go to those coffee shops. Of course, we could anchor out religiously.

Two items that might surprise folks are Maintenance / Upgrades, and Fuel. After all: We are a Power Boat, and more so, a Wooden Power Boat!!! Well, per prior posts it is about Life Style and choosing a well built boat. We are not crossing oceans, if we did Sail would be the only way to go. Instead we tend to stay in one area for 3-4 days, then move on – typically 2-3 hours away. With Viking Star's very high level of fuel efficiency our fuel costs to move are very very low. In fact, perhaps 1/2 of the fuel used over the past year was for heating during the winter. Look for another post to dig more into Fuel costs over the year.

Wood Boat – Yup. Again, there is lots of ‘opinions’ out there about how much it costs to keep a wooden boat, but for us the costs are very low. This is due that the fact Viking Star was well built, mostly well maintained, and we keep up on the tasks. I have never been convinced a Wood Boat is ‘that Much more Work’ then a glass one, and so far will keep that opinion. I will say that a wood boat will decline much faster if they are not watched after, and that perhaps for 80+% of the wood boats out there the correct solution is a Jerry Can and a Flare. But then also remember, most wooden boats are at least 40-50 years old. As glass boats are coming into that age will see how they fare.

So, how does Viking Star's expense compare to others? One great list we know of is here: Lots and lots of sources.

And we have been followers of sv Third Day for several years now. Rich and family are perhaps on the leading edge of ‘Frugal Cruising’. I pulled their expenses for 2011 and here is the comparison:

Right off the bat we can see that Kristi and I spent 150% more than Rich and family.  Especially amazing consider that Rich's crew is a family of 4, with Teen agers! Wow . In comparing, what can we learn? Well, I see:

  1. Ongoing Boat Costs about the same. Wood vs. Glass??. 'Nuff said.
  2. Fuel – we are 2x, and if we back out the heating costs (Not too much need for heaters in Mexico) we are very close.
  3. Moorage – Rich is an anchor-out fiend. Wonder if that attributes to his fuel costs some?
  4. Dining out and personal. Will just say: Taco Carts and Bathing Suits
And of course medical.

At $43k Kristi and I came close to the upper end of our goal. And perhaps if we use a more efficient heating method this winter (Hurricane and/or extra 30A shore power cord), combined with a little less ‘Enjoying Life’ we could make the $35K goal. But then, life is to enjoy, right?

And I still say: If we wanted to meet that $25K side of the goal, get out of the USA…

Cost to Cruise - June

June comes to a close and we have our costs summary.

Groceries continue to outpace the average.  I suspect this is a step-function and we will see this higher cost ongoing, and who says we have no inflation…    Maintenance includes $550 for a new Spade anchor shank being shipped from France.  The rests reflects letting myself (Al) have access to two really well equipped hardware stores where I stocked up on supplies, plus picking up 6 gallons of Oil for a future oil change.

Other items of note:  Moorage and Transportation costs reflect the quick trip to Portland for family.  Communication costs reflect us traveling into areas where we need to use some of the backup phones to support my job.

And notice a new row has been added, documenting the Solar production from our two panels.

A Very Special Hour

Yesterday morning, I noticed an eagle sitting on a large rock alongside Viking Star, on the spit exposed by low tide.  At nearly the same moment, I saw a dog and his family ambling towards the eagle.  QUICK!  Grab the camera!  But this is the ONLY shot I got off. I was disappointed.

This morning, Al got out of bed before me, made coffee, and brought me a cup.  But when he returned to the main cabin he said, "Your eagle is back!"  He took several shots, of which this is my favorite:

Then Al relinquished the camera, and I spent a most wonderful hour watching this beautiful bird.

Once, it appeared he was gazing at his reflection!

But, he was grazing for breakfast!  Got it!

It's a running joke that I have pictures of a lot of butts, especially bird butts.  But I love this one!

A raven even came to peer over his shoulder.  See how far the water has fallen?  This hour has passed so quickly.

And it all happened, right outside my door!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Where Ferries Go to Die??

While in Friday Harbor last winter, Kristi and I enjoyed keeping track of the ferries as they came and went.  They became friends, and we could start to tell them by sight or Sound.  Yes, we know why there is no ‘T’ in Sealth!  So it was interesting to come across two out of service Ferries the other day while motoring around South Sound.  One obviously an old Washington State Ferry and another with what looked like a fringed roof!

We first spotted Olympic listing on a receding tide on the NE corner of Ketron Island.  Looking sad but not too far gone?  Researching the web (Great site: reveals she was one of two ferries purchased from Chesapeake Bay ferry service in 1954.  Both were pressed into a quickly expanding Washington State ferry system while newer ferries were being built (the 1st being one of my favorites ‘Evergreen State’).  The other ferry purchased in 1954 was not a Sistership but more of a Cousin.  And this vessel, the Rhododendron, interesting enough was also heavily involved in the ending point of Olympics’ career.  Read more here:

It is interesting to note that the newest class of Washington State Ferries being built are named the Olympic Class (144 car ferry).  I wonder why no mention of m/v Olympic is made in the new ferries web site? :

The next ferry we came across was Ocean City nosed into shore in Oro bay.  Again, a vessel with a long history – and an end that involved a dream.  And again, this ferry began her life on the East Coast and was transported to the sound – though this time it was after her retirement from ferry service.  Purchased by Tom Palmer to be converted into an excursion boat specializing as a kind of ‘floating campground’ for RVers while touring the Puget Sound.  What a fun idea!  I found two sites with some history:,6219817

All things come to an end.  And it seem the South Sound has its share of ending work horses of the water.  Kristi and I ran across a couple of old wooden tugs, and one other ex-military looking vessel (minelayer?), nosed into shore in someone’s back yard here in Mayo Bay.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Dinghy Adventure

After a pleasant morning in Oro Bay, we decided to move on to another location.  We would like to cover all the places we really want to see in the South Sound in the next two weeks.  We are expecting some company soon!

Al was on the bow dealing with the anchor, as usual, but this time I kept the helm (all the way to Penrose State Park!)

Can you hear me singing?
This is the way we steer the boat,
Steer the boat, steer the boat
This is the way we steer the boat,
So early in the morning!
I steered the whole way, until I asked Al, "What IS that floating in the water up there?"  He said, "Birds."  Okay.  And a minute later it was "Hold on...that's an OTTER!"  Al called him Oscar, and he was HUGE.  Do you think he was a sea otter?

We don't usually like to tow the dinghy, so most of the time it is up on the boat.  But we decided that we would tow it in Carr Inlet to explore a few places.  First stop was Mayo Cove.  We found the state park dock and got out for a hike.

I think this is the first Trillium I have seen.  It appears the bloom has already formed a seed pod.

We hike back to the dinghy, and decide to stop at the boat so Al can change his shoes for a walk on the beach on the other side of Penrose Point to look for sand dollars.  On the way around the  point, we gave this guy a wide berth, thinking he may be perching on the spit.  Al says, "We've never seen a Jesus heron before!"

The guidebook said we could find sand dollars, up to 500 in a square yard, on Delano Beach south of the point.  I expected to find a sand beach loaded with them.  It also said they had reddish-brown flesh.  We noticed kind of orangish ones in the water below us.

Then we saw FIELDS of these much darker discs seemingly standing on end.  We first thought they were rocks, but Al was able to bring a couple up for a closer look!

More like it!!!

I picked up the big one to hand it to Al, and it creeped me out!  It felt like it was squirming!

They are velvety, and Al could feel the movement  too!

A successful outing!  But it's beginning to rain, so we head back going slowly and close to shore, mapping the sand dollar fields.  But wait, is that a huge fish?  No!  It's a seal, swimming below water, between us and the shore.  He scoots away, and surfaces a moment later, looking at us grumpily.  Sorry!  Then as we approach the Point once again, we discover the heron's secret!

Wildlife Disturbances?

We spent a VERY pleasant afternoon in Oro Bay, Anderson Island yesterday.  I did some sunbathing and I think I timed it just right ... what was just turning pink yesterday is browning up nicely.  My own touch of 'Oro'.

Al stayed up late (early?) playing with his computer project..

Soon after I awoke, I was laying in bed, and I heard/felt a thump.  What was that?  It came again!  Did something bump us?  It should be low tide....are we hitting a rock?  And once more a thump.  I look out the window and see that the water is low indeed.  And then I see a seal.  Was he playing with us?  Hmmm.  I did not hear the thump again.

I turn on the computer and check facebook, being quiet to not disturb Sleeping Al.  The coffee grinder would surely disturb him.

I look up, and again I see a seal!  He has a fabulous 'zen' pose going on.  I grab the camera, and when I open the cabin door, he looks over, but holds the pose with his rear flippers peeking out.

Mostly, he appears to be worshiping the sun, facing it with eyes closed, soaking in the rays...much as I did yesterday afternoon.  He had to have floated in this way for nearly half an hour!

After breakfast and a shower, I was doing dishes, and I heard a terrible sound.  It sounded somewhat like a woman screaming, but it was SO CLOSE, and if it was a person, why was she not using any words?!  I dried my hands and began looking around.  There were no nearby boats.  I didn't see anyone in the water.  Then I spied this fellow on the beach:

Watching his intended dinner swimming away...

I usually think of deer as silent animals, but I can tell you ....they can scream Bloody Murder when the situation calls for it.  This seemed such a small deer. I watched it worriedly, hoping for it to get to shore, and not be badly injured.  I needed binoculars, but it DID make it.  It had no spots, so it was a youngster and not a baby.  It did not take long for it to make a bounding leap up the shore.

The circle of life was not completed in this instance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where Are You?

It seems like that's the first question everyone asks us these days!

We got a call from our shrimping friends, Mark and Lauresa, last night.  They were in Friday Harbor, and wondering where we were.

Now, they aren't the only ones.  Even the kids, when I ask them if they've seen the blog lately, say "Well, when you post on facebook, I might look at it, but it's been a while."  I had anticipated the blog would be a fun way the kids and grandkids could keep up with what we are doing.  Eight-year-old Troy is old enough to  read, and I thought it would be fun for them to pull up maps and follow along.  Oh well.

So let me do it....

Add caption
OK.  We started this morning at Tolmie State Park.  It is on the left.  See those two little 'boat' symbols?  Those are mooring buoys, and we were on the lower one.  We ran the Nisqually Reach, which stretches between Olympia and Tacoma, Washington.  We went around Ketron Island through Cormorant Passage, and back around to Oro Bay on Anderson Island.  We are in the western portion, with a good view of Mt. Ranier.

And THAT is where we are.

Here are some pictures from today:

A 'gang' of seals'.  There were lots of seagulls hanging around for crumbs too.  I don't know how they managed to not get in the photo!

We saw several eagles off Ketron Island, but this one was sitting still, posing I guess.

The tip of Ketron Island, where Captain Vancouver spent his last night of exploration of Puget's Sound.

Our 'view off the bow' tonight!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Henderson Inlet to Tolmie State Park

We anchored smack dab in the middle of Henderson Inlet.

We entered and motored slowly down center, gawking around.  The shore on the north half was filled with houses.  There is a railroad spur on the west shore, where there are log booms and lots of seals lolling around, below signs that warn not to approach the wildlife.  Access to two creeks that empty here are thus blocked from dinghy exploration.

So we just drop anchor for the evening.  We do see several seals in the water, a few seemingly jumping for joy.  We saw our first loon since leaving the San Juans.

Al and I both worked for an hour this morning, and then prepared to move on.  Poor Al.  As we pulled anchor, the chain was loaded with mud.  He's been saying for some time that he wanted a wash down pump, and this is exactly the reason for it!  We had 150 feet of chain out, and it was rinsed -- bucket by hand-drawn bucket.  Only after the anchor was stowed did he tell me that the boat was covered in worms!  More rinsing ensued to chase them out the scuppers.

We enjoyed just moving slowly around Johnson Point.  Al made a comment that the South Sound seems to be all about houses.  THEN, we see this one:

And it's for SALE!

Only 4 bedrooms, but over 13,000 square feet, 5 fireplaces, and a 16-car garage.  Marked down to $5.9m. Maybe we'll start buying lottery tickets again....

Tonight we float on a mooring buoy at Tolmie State Park.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Review of Olympia

Last weekend we spent a day driving around a bit in Olympia before we returned the car we rented for our trip to Portland.  We drove up to the Capitol building, where my mother worked in the secretarial pool in the late '40's (?).  We kept the boat at Swantown Marina, and drove past the boatyard there -- scoping out places to haul the boat this fall.  Moorage at Swantown is very reasonable, compared to the summer rates at most marinas in the area of the San Juans.  Plus, this is where Viking Star was hauled out before being put on a truck and brought down to Portland when Al first purchased her!

Last Friday, we returned to Olympia from Hope Island.  The refrigerator was nearly bare, and the shafts Al left at a machinist to be keyed were ready.

This time we enjoyed our stay at Percival Landing!  We had a great view of the Capitol building, and were just blocks from a grocery store , the Farmer's Market, the machine shop, a welder and much more.

Our visit got off to a good start when we went to the Community/Senior Center to use our credit card to pay for moorage.  We ran into a very friendly man in the lobby.  With just a few minutes of conversation, we learned so much about each other.  Roger had one of those sit-down walkers, even though he was only 50.  We suspect he had some sort of mild brain injury.  He is a self-described 'military brat', half Japanese, half Scandinavian.  His father was born in Canby, MN.  Roger moved here from Okinawa 5 years ago.

We picked up the generator parts.  We got lattes at Cafe Vita, and did some window shopping.  We stopped in at one of the MANY bookstores downtown and picked up a copy of River Horse, a book recommended by our friend Hira.

Saturday we went to Batdorf and Bronson for more lattes, and learned the legend of the Dancing Goats ( )  A friendly customer outside with her dog recommended we also go to the Tasting Room just another block down the road at the roastery, so we did!  We sampled 4 brews and bought some beans.  Throughout the day, a soaking rain fell.  We walked to the grocery store and came back to fill the fridge. 

After dinner, the sun actually came out!  We took a walk along the waterfront at sunset.

Today we spent the morning at Starbucks, where I got my favored Chai Tea Latte, and also a Clover-brewed coffee.  We filled the water tanks, and motored up to Boston Harbor for ethanol-free gas for the dinghy and the back-up generator, and soft-serve ice cream.  Now we are at anchor just around the corner in Henderson Inlet.

Overall, we found Olympia to be a small town with just enough 'big town' touches for our satisfaction. 

Controller / Alternator interaction SOLVED

Well, today I solved the funny ‘interaction’ issue between the TriStar MPPT controller and the mains alternator.  IDing the True Cause was made so simply once I dumped real-time data from the controller using a connected computer.  Most people who had commented back about this got it right, sort of. . . . Though  it was the controller going into Float Mode due to high charge voltage, what had bothered me was this reduced output would occur even when the batteries were down in charge (Vbat at say 14.3 while under heavy charging - receiving 195A from the mains alternator) –  I expected ALL sources to be in ‘bulk’ mode as we had not reached the terminal charge voltage of 14.6v (per Dyno-battery specifications for out house battery)

The issue was I had not wired up a remote Voltage Sense to the Morningstar controller – as that would require a not-so-simple pulling of yet-another-wire from the front of the boat to the back.   And even though I am using mcm373 cable for battery runs (mcm373 is two sizes larger then 4/0 wire);  195A from the mains alternator results in a almost 0.6v drop.   This was reflected back to the Morningstar causing it to see a higher assumed 'battery' voltage, cutting back back on delivered amps and even entering ‘float’ mode….

Example – while underway today I measured:
Vbat = 14.34v – per DMM (Link-10 shows 14.30v)
Valt  = 14.85v – Per DMM.
Aalt  =  195a  – Per clamp-on DMM.
Vmsc = 14.80v -  Per Morningstar internal reporting.

Morning Star had entered Float mode.

Without a remote sense wire the Morningstar can only see the voltage at the ‘common’ distribution point which starts with the actual battery voltage, and then includes the voltage drop over the mcm373 wire as a result of it carrying the heavy mains alternator current.  As opposed seeing only  the actual battery voltage.  (The mains alternator regulator was just fine, it already has a remote battery voltage sensing wire).

Lesions learned:
  1. Even if one uses BFA Wires (Big Fat A__) (mcm-373)- Lots of Amps still can cause a significant voltage drop.
  2. Don’t be a lazy bum, pull the remote sensing wire!!!

Oh well, guess will need to set aside a day to pull a cable.  Just need to decide how I can get it past the back of the washer without having to pull that out…

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Solar Data!!! What does Solar on a Boat Really Produce?

Ahh, love it…

Today Kristi must have been bored, as she kindly rearranged the FHSUs (Forward Horizontal Storage Units  aka V-Berths) clearing access into the starboard cabinet.  As a result I could pull out a Keyspan USB <--> RS-232 adapter and connect up the TriStar MPPT data logging software.  And guess what, they had already configured it from the factory to capture some good stuff!!!

Daily AH produced via 480W of panels
Here is a graph of daily Ah’s produced starting from when we fired up the panels (May 25th being the 1st Full day), and yup you can see those first couple of days were productive ones!  Looking at the data closer I again notice a correlation between very low output days and when we motored, but not symmetrically.  All the ‘really low’ days (100Ahs or less) were days we motored.  However there are also some days we motored where the output did not drop real low..  No real answer for that.   Finally  I would ‘guess’ the days in the 120-160 range were likely rainy days, but I did not mark the calendar so cannot say with certainty.

This is where monthly averages come into play!  And the controller was pre-configured to capture total Ah’s produced from 1st power-on.   4,462 Ah’s were delivered over a 29 day period.  Or an average of 153Ah’s per day.  (A more ‘correct’ measurement is the KWh’s produced, which is 59KWh total, or a bit over 2KW’s per day.  Seeing as Boaters seem to like Ah’s will stick with that for now.)

OK, this is real results for two 240w panels oriented largely ‘flat’ here in the PNW.    How does this compare and what does it mean?  4,462Ah comes to around 45 hours of generator time we did not need.  And in fact, we have only used the generator twice after installing the panels – both times to support Laundry.

My modeling had indicated 61KWh (or 4,583Ah) for the month of June.   Looks like I hit it within 3%.

Side note:  The TriStar has optical isolation on the RS-232 port which is self-powered via the external RS-232 connection (they steal power from DTR and/ or RTS).  I had good results using a Keyspan 19HS adapter, but when I tried another no-name one things would not work.  Not only does there need to be a connection on DTR and/or RTS, but it must be sufficient 'voltage' to power to optical isolation.  Many lower-cost RS-232 dongles may have the signal, but skimp on the voltage - trying to get by with just 5v from the USB connection.  I have always had good luck with the Keyspan 19HS, it is kind of the golden-standard of the industry.

See a bit more here:
     or here:

This will be interesting to see how things progresses over the summer.  I will add a ‘Solar Ah produced’ row to the month ‘Costs’ summary.  Keep an eye there!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hope Island

We spent three days on the mooring buoy, riding the wind-generated waves, while I completed a work project.  Yesterday, things aligned when I wrapped up the project and the sun came out!  In our rush to FINALLY get off the boat, we didn't bring the camera!  And while hiking, Al say's 'there's a deer not twenty feet from you."  So I immediately stopped, and it took me a couple beats to find him, but there he was staring back at me, not startling at all, even when I said "Hi, Little Boy" to him (he had a couple of nubbins on his head).

We have been communicating with our friend and fellow boater/blogger, Hira.  The South Sound are her home grounds.  We had hoped to meet up with her while she did a recent tour of Peter Puget's exploration of the South Sound, but we ended up on a surprise visit to Portland instead.  Yesterday Hira emailed to find out our location, and came down on the flood tide.  We were sitting on the island and watching a boat coming and Al spoke exactly what I had been thinking:  Could that be Hira?!  We had a good evening sharing steaks and conversation.

(check Hira's blog at: )

As Hira, Shatoosh and Pashmina 2 left this morning, we took photos of each other.
After morning chores and a facebook hit, we packed up some snacks and went back to the island.  No deer posed for us today.  

It doesn't show in the photo, but we had a view of Mt. Rainier.

The picnic table didn't have a backrest....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


You have probably figured out by now that some of my favorite photos to take are sunrises and sunsets.

And you know that I prefer glassy water above any other.

Add some clouds for texture....jet contrails OR the fluff from God.

And a mostly unspectacular sunset yields some pretty awesome pictures:

It was the reflection that first caught my eye

Then the contrails and clouds bring out the 'star' in the sun

And back up for the bright finish

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'll Be There

We have said before that perhaps the most difficult thing about the cruising lifestyle is leaving the family behind -- aging parents, growing grandchildren, and kids who are now young adults -- the source of our deepest joys, and greatest worries.

So when we got a call from Al's ex last week saying that his son needed him, we said we'd be there.

We needed to find a place to park the boat for a week, with access to car rental.  We motored three hours to Olympia, and Al hoofed it to the Budget Rental office, arriving only 20 minutes before closing time.  We were able to make it to the Portland area Saturday afternoon.

While Al focused his attention on son, hopefully helping to solve a few difficulties, he was also able to spend some time with his daughter, who provided us a place to stay for the week.  And I was left free to visit my daughters and grandchildren.

We enjoyed soaking up the love of this surprise visit, and hope all those we spent time with feel the love that we poured out in return.

And I still can't believe I didn't take a single photograph this time!

We have now returned to the boat, found her still afloat, provisioned and done laundry, and are prepared to resume exploring the South Sound beginning tomorrow!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Birds of Jarrell Cove

Here is a lovely chain of events!

Solar power generation => less need to run generator => QUIET => hear more birds!

And Jarrel Cove State Marine Park has a helpful bulletin:

Inside is a checklist and birding tips.

The other morning while slowly waking up, we enjoyed a concert by the purple martins, chattering of swallows, and eagle cries.  We had wondered what type of birds would occupy the houses on poles in the water, and that is how we discovered the flutey scales we heard were purple martins.

Last night we saw that the ravens don't mind the nails pounded into the tops of poles, put there to keep birds off.

And on a somewhat related topic, we enjoyed colorful eggs for breakfast this morning.  While at Longbranch last weekend, harbormaster Lynn brought us two dozen eggs from a man up the road who has chickens.  I have seen brown eggs before, but a few of these were the prettiest aqua, like huge robin's eggs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Solar in the Rain, Clearances, Wiggling, and a Jeff Foxworthy reference.

Will the Sun ever go away?  I have been trying to manually capture the performance of our new Solar Panels on a cloudy day – and despite a few good starts it seems no matter what - we can NOT get a fully-cloudy day!  Oh Well, guess will just have to wait until I dig out that USB -to- RS-232 adapter from the Starboard V-Berth and enable the controllers data logging capability.  Until then will just pass on:  We have been stationary for 3 days now and the Link-10 shows we are down 236 Ah.  Based on that will say that the panels have been providing about 2/3 of our energy needs during these ‘Cloudy’ days.

As we are stationary for a while, I took the opportunity to check and adjust the valve clearance on our Cummins.  It really is not that hard – all those years growing up with Motorcycles gave me lots of practice.  Kristi was busy with photos, and before you ask – never mind what is behind the Duck. . . .

Moving on, - here is our 1st attempt at Video postings.  These Girls came aboard as part of last weekends festivities and have been busy wiggling away ever since.  One really needs to see the motion, as photos do not cut it.

And finally, Viking Star is 50 years old.  Built back when Weather Stripping was not really a concern.  Besides with that extra hot Dickinson having lots of cool air is a plus!  Now, question for  you:  If we live in a place where we use Blue Tape for Weather stripping, might we be considered a Red Neck?  (Or, do we need to use Camo Duct-tape instead???)