Monday, April 30, 2018

Back on the boat!

Long winter, long projects, long ....     Well, it is time for a change.  The Dirt Thing as I call it is all taken care of, in a lease for a few years and that leaves us back to the boating life!

Though will say, Viking Star is I am sure rather annoyed at this whole Dirt Thing.  (There is a reason boats are referred to as She), and I am sure she has a few surprises for us as a result.  The past few days have been spent on the generator, rebuilding the raw water pump which had frozen bearings.  But as of tonight that is completed (Good deal as we leave port tomorrow morning).  Still to flush out is the water maker and its new RO membranes, reattach the auto-pilot drive (after re-building the seal in the steering pump), and will just have to see what else comes up.

This summer will be a Grand Kids tour.  Taking the 2nd oldest for a short hop into Canada (after all his Brother did that last year!), and then the oldest will be with us for almost two months - we are thinking of heading up to Desolation, perhaps the Broughtons.  Who knows, but will be fun. 

And with all that my Alternator Regulator projects are gaining some real traction.  Also will be a fun year!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Where have all the posts gone?

I noted at one time that MANY cruising blogs seems to have either a 1-2 year life span, or perhaps 7 years.  A good number of the longer life blogs we have followed seem to peter out around 7 year, guess kind of a nautical 7-year itch.  Seems at that time folks get tired of the floating life and move on to something else.  (that is, those who make it past the 1st year that is).

So, are Kristi and I packing it in?  Will Viking Star once again become a marine orphan?   No.  We are on our 9th year of full time cursing, and do not have plans (Awk, I just used the 'P' word!!)  to change.   We have settled into is this 8mo or so on 'out there' in the PNW / Inside Passage / Alaska, with winter months picking up a dock - in Friday Harbor for several years.

So - what has happened then?  Why have there been in effect NO post the past few months (err, years..) to speak of.   I offer three prime reasons:
  1. Facebook.  Perhaps the biggest change we have seen.  Facebook did not really exist when we started, now it does.  And to be honest almost all the 'Travel Log' post that Kristi did are now pushed up to Facebook.
  2. We have kind of ran out of things to say.  Example, the Things That Work labeled posts.  Mostly we have settled in on Viking Star with regards to equipment, so do not really have much more to offer the community.
  3. This:   Several years ago I was frustrated by the inability to PROPERLY charge our house batteries using the widely available 'must have' regulators - so I made a better solution and made it availed to other folks if the wanted.   Up to a year ago the only way to get one was to solder up a board yourself.  That changed when I did a build, and well - things have occupied my time.  That combined with a much richer 'systems' architecture, I have been busy designing as well as shipping..

So, that is kind of it.  Technology shift, talked out, and a time consuming 'project'.  In short, that is what has happened to the posts.

The "Dirt Thing" . . .
Oh, and one more thing:  We bought a house.  I can hear it now:  SELL OUT!!!   Well, hopefully not.  See, Kristi and I are not ready to give up this cruising life, and are looking to keep the same pattern we have done for the past several years (8mo+ out there / winter over in Friday Harbor).  The House is kind of a place holder for down the road.  We will be looking to rent it out for now,  with the idea of moving towards were we rent it in the spring/summer/fall when we are out there, and use it our-self during the winter.  But that all is down the road.  For now, we have something in place for the future - and it comes with a separate shop we will use and where can can stash the old pickup - sigh, one foot at a time back into the 'Real World'...

Oh, and that Regulator project:  Well there are things afoot as the saying goes.  Keep an eye out for new news this year!

And maybe I will also find some time to make the final Cost to Cruise posts for the year we spend up North.  - perhaps the closest to a 'typical' year we envisioned.   And perhaps some posts along the lines of those  "Sure am glad I do not have a HIGH MAINTENANCE wood boat" comments I often hear.  Hint: I am a bit weary of disappointing folks with the reality of owning a well made/and maintained wooden boat.  Now those Fiber Glass boats I note in the yards for weeks at a time getting 'buffed out', well, that is another story I suppose.

Hum...   Perhaps point #2 above is not really true after all. . . .

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Things that . . . work: EcoSeb DD122EA-CLASSIC Dehumidifier

I have been meaning to do this post for a LONG time, and here it is.  Over the time we have posted about a few items we as full-time liveaboards have found work, and do not work.    Often the differences is in that we USE an item a lot, as opposed to the typical boat which sees maybe two weeks a year of usage – translating into: there is a lot of ‘Marine Grade’ items out there that get glowing reviews and work well, as long as you do not use them.  (those fancy variable speed computer controlled water pumps are a PRIME example).

And here is an item that has proven itself over several winters of constant use:  A full sized desiccant dehumidifier – Specifically the EcoSeb DD122EA-CLASSIC.

During the winter boats collect moisture, and people add to that tremendously through cooking and just breathing.  One of our MOST favorite counter measures is the Dickinson Diesel Stove ( , but conditions do not allow for us to run it all winter.  Instead we kind of cheer when Bad Weather comes to justify its lighting.

The rest of the time we would often had a small cube heater running on low in the aft stateroom.  It occurred to me:  If we are using 400W or so of electricity, why not also try to pull moisture out of the air, not just heat it.  And that lead me to looking into dehumidifiers.  Not the small pellet ones, but proper ones which plug into the wall.   Now most AC dehumidifiers are based on a compressor, much like self contained Air Conditioners.  And in the same light most dehumidifiers are about as noisy as a small self contained Air Conditioner.  But there is a different technology:  self contained re-generating desiccant based units.   These work kind of along the lines of those pellet desiccant dehumidifiers, in that the desiccant attracts and pulls moisture out of the air, but the different is there is a small heater to ‘regenerate’ the desiccant material in a continuous process.  These units do not need to be ‘recharged’ with a bag of pellets, just feed them AC power.

And here is another benefit:  no compressor translates to MUCH less noise!  Really the only noise is the fan circulating air.  On High our unit is a little intrusive if in the same cabin, but we leave it on low often while sleeping in the aft cabin – no issues, just white noise.

Downside of Desiccant vs. Compressor based dehumidifiers?  They are less efficient and use more electricity.  Ours uses from 300w to a bit over 600w depending on its mode.   Well, so what.  We were running a small heater using 400w already.  So the energy usage is the same, we still need the heat, and now we pull over 3-4 gallons of water from the air per day!

This unit has been working well, very well in fact.  I offer we are very very happy with this unit and would recommend it to any one spending the winter on their boat.   Now, if you do not really need that much heat, but only are interested in pulling water from the air, one of the compressor units likely would be a better choice.  But for the PNW  liveaboards, this EcoSub is truly the Cat’s Meow.

There are a few different models available, we have the D122EA-CLASSIC and would get it again.  Smaller in size (about the size of a stand-up oil heater).  Easy to store and works.

More detail here:

And for more of Things that Work (and do not), click here:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Good Intentions

Nearly a month ago, my sister sent me a facebook message:

 Well, I do have excuses. I won't share those here. But I also have intentions to bring the blog up to date, one of these days....

Thursday, June 15, 2017


The purpose of our Hawaiian vacation was to celebrate 15 happy years of marriage! What better place than Disney's Aulani resort???

We were welcomed with flower leis and citrus-infused water.

Our room overlooked the garden, where set-up for the night's luau was in process. We liked our room, for the fact that it did NOT view the water park. We felt it was quieter. It also offered a more direct ocean view.

Mickey towels, and the quilt pattern contains Mickeys too!

A morning view from the balcony. The arches atop simulate the traditional Hawaiian houses, or hale.

We saw several bridal parties, but this couple will share OUR anniversary.

A romantic sunset dinner to celebrate!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Big Island

This season we are taking quite a big break from cruising.

Our first stop is The Big Island. That's right -- HAWAII!

'Pumpkin' was a nice perk of our Airbnb, along with a covered patio. Two big drawbacks -- there was no AC, and there WERE coqui frogs, whose mating call can reach 90 decibels. Yeah. VERY difficult to sleep.

We stayed 'on the Kona side'. Driving south, one of our first stops was the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. It's a very sacred spot known as 'the place of refuge'. This is a royal fish pond. Out in the bay, tour boats brought people to swim with the dolphins.

Our place was in Holualoa, so we visited the Holualoa Kona Coffee Co, complete with tastings. Here is a branch, which shows the stages of coffee growth. From R to L you go from buds to blooms to cherries. The flowers are known as Kona Snow, and have a light fragrance similar to honeysuckle.

Back home on our patio, I was amused by many geckos.

One day we drove north to the Kohala district.
We visited the original statue cast of King Kamehameha, near where he was born.

We drove to the end of the road, at the Pololu Valley overlook.

We stopped at the Keokea Beach Park to watch the waves, and these birds disproved the 'birds of a feather flock together' saying. Five different birds! A red-crested cardinal, a Northern cardinal, saffron sparrows, a common myna, and a dove.

Our drove over to the Hilo side was expected to be rainy -- if you can call 8 inches 'rainy'.  The worst of it held off until just as we were finishing our visit to the black sand beach at Punalu'u.

Large grit, but VERY black, and a bit difficult to walk on, especially in bare feet.

I rolled up my pant legs, but the ocean jumped me!

We stopped at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but the rain was POURING! We didn't see much, but watched their movie and visited the gift shop. This is a 3-D map of the island, in the correct orientation, north at top.

We did walk a little ways through the Thurston Lava Tube. I was amazed how well this photo turned out with no flash!

Our second Airbnb was a room in a house. Jack made fabulous breakfasts, which included fruit grown on the property! Harrison had nice tourist tips. This sign is at the Ahalanui County Beach Park, which is where the 'King's Pool' is --
a geo-thermal pool.

This road ends near Kalapana, a village overrun by lava. We drive to the end, but don't want to attempt the 4-mile hike to the lava overlook. But even with rain clouds, the steam cloud where the lava meets the ocean is very evident -- 4 miles away!

This Airbnb had cats too! This is Diego, who liked to spend time near us. He was LARGE, and affectionate and talkative, but not cuddly. His brother Boots came to check us out, once, but we would see him in the field on occasion.

Papayas at sunset

The next day we spend an hour or so at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory.
Yes, there were free samples.
We were surprised to find that we preferred the milk chocolate ones to dark chocolate!

 THEN, we were on our way to the BEST highlight of the Big Island! We took a tour from Blue Hawaiian Helicopters! Expensive, but it was worth every penny. Especially since it was raining the day we drove over the volcano. NOW we get the view -- viewS.

Approach. There are tour boats that go too. But heck, we LIVE on a boat. And Al has never been on a helicopter.

Way at the top of the photo, where the lava field ends and the green begins, is Kanapali. That is where they allow tourists to park, and begin the 4-mile hike to the lava overlook.  Across the lava, in the sun, with only water you have brought - hopefully, and no potties. No thanks. Well, they do rent bicycles too. But that doesn't appeal to us as much either. We DO like the air-conditioned view from the helicopter.
Oh, look how much you can see underwater!

I love my zoom!!! See the hot spot?!  And that shelf? Overnight it fell into the ocean. We were told that it changes everyday. And we were among the last to see it this way. We were the first of about 5 or 6 helicopters on the 4:00 flights -- last of the day.
 This is a great webpage:

The pilot takes us up the slope to a steam vent, where a lava tube has collapsed and made a crater. The next photo is a zoom of the small crater above the big one.

Hot lava!

The finale is several passes over a remote area that the locals call Narnia. This side of the island gets plenty of rain, and it has filled the calderas. These falls are on private property, and permission must be granted to hike in. Our host Harrison says he has gone swimming here.

This is a wonderful culmination of our Big Island visit. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Miramontes Family Visit

It's hard to believe it's been almost a month, but the Miramontes family (minus Dad) came to visit during their Spring Break. We met in Bremerton, where it was only a one-block walk to such fine establishments as Starbucks, Subway, and Coldstone. We walked a bit farther, in the wind and rain, to the Navy museum, but it was Tuesday -- the only day of the week they are closed!

Well, let's try to do that when we come back to Bremerton to drop you off. Maybe Uncle Mikey will be around to visit then too.  Off to Blake Island State Park!

Blake Island is one of our favorite places. But this is not the view you like to see when you have 6 people cooped up on a boat, three of them kids aged 6, 8, and 10.

Blessedly, the sun came out on Wednesday afternoon! And what do boys love to do?
Throw rocks, of course.

And make faces at Grammie! But he's got such a CUTE face...

It's nesting season for killdeer -- is there a nest nearby?

The kids are not stopped by the HUGE puddle under the play structure.
Madalyn loves the zip-line-like feature.

Sailing Vessel Carlyn is in the area. At dinnertime, the crew adds a lot of color to the view.

One of my favorite subjects.

Oh no! Where is Evergreen State going??? She is our 'favorite' ferry, and we are at first distressed to see her being pushed south. We knew she had been up for auction. Al googles to find the answer:  she is going to the Caribbean!  We are happy she will continue to be a ferry. 

The kids are delighted to watch the raccoons.  Casey even got a photo of one climbing onto Viking Star. (This is old hat for us, but it's a thrill for the kids)

The next day there is still sun in the morning, so Casey and I and the kids head for the west point.
It's fun to explore at low tide.

The kids try to look as bored as possible while they take a rest.

We brought snacks, but that didn't keep Madalyn down for long!

Milo and Casey

Evan and Madalyn

Dig dig dig!
The rain held off ALMOST until we got back to the boat. I don't remember what we did all afternoon (probably watched a movie), but after supper we had a campfire in the shelter that the Carlyn had vacated that day.

The next morning Papa and I begin to ready the boat to go back to Bremerton while everyone else is till in bed. It doesn't take long for heads to pop up, though. Micah DOES meet us, and we DO go to the Navy Museum, and we all have lunch together before we all go different directions -- Miramontes back to Hillsboro OR, Micah to his place, and Al and I take Viking Star to Poulsbo for a gathering with the Cascadia Sailing Association.

A passer-by takes a group shot for us!