Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Star of Japan

While Brunswick is not a busy port, cargo vessels and car carriers do come and go here.  The car carriers are on the other side of a spoil built island.  The cargo vessels come in just down the way from the marina where we are.  We are fascinated and a tad scared of these behemoths.  We didn't get a lot of these giant ships in Kansas!  HA!  I decided to hit the web to find out more about the current ship in port Star of Japan.  Here is what I found -
Principal particulars:
L (o.a.) x L (b.p.) x B x D x d: 198.00m x 187.00m x 31.00m x 19.00m x 12.00m
DWT/GT: 46,387t (at 12.3m draft)/ 32,844t
Main engine: Mitsui-MAN B&W 6S60MC diesel x 1 unit
MCR: 10,520kW x 96rpm
Speed, service: 16.55kt

  Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (MES) has delivered the Star Japan (HN: 1532), a general cargo/ container carrier, one of the newest ships for the company Grieg Shipping and Maritime Transport A/S of Norway at its Tamano works. The Star Japan is the second vessel of the series built for the Grieg group after the first vessel, Star Juventus (HN: 1531) built for Grieg International II A/S in May 2004. These vessels are the so-called open hatch type bulk carrier with boxshaped cargo holds with hatch openings of the same size (length and breadth) as each hold for efficient loading of a variety of cargoes such as unitized cargoes of forestry products (papers, pulps and timbers), containers and bulk cargoes. The vessel has a double-hull structure, and is equipped with a pair of self-traveling gantry cranes of MES make with advanced technology on the upper deck for efficient cargo handling. To achieve the maximum cargo intake both on deck and in cargo holds, the accommodation space is designed in slim proportions and located far aft. The bow and stern thrusters and the Becker rudder achieve high maneuverability, previously used to cruise ships. The wheelhouse is designed for one-man-bridge operation. To secure the aft view from wheelhouse, two cylindrical funnels and spiral ladders are arranged. Free-falling type lifeboats are equipped, according to the news reported by MarNews.

Blah, blah, blah....wait, WHAT?    The wheelhouse is designed for one-man-bridge operation.  That can't be right.  Hum?   Let me look above again.  Yep, that is what it says.  Let me double check, maybe I didn't copy it right.  Nope, it copied correctly.  So this gigantic cargo ship (length overall 198m) is designed so that only ONE person needs to be on it's bridge, at the helm, running.....everything at the bridge?  O-N-E!  OMG!  And it seems this is marketed as a feature.  OMG! 

PanamaxNew Panamax
Length294.13 m (965 ft)366 m (1,200 ft)
Beam32.31 m (106 ft)49 m (160.7 ft)
Draft (TFW)12.04 m (39.5 ft)15.2 m (49.9 ft)
TEUApprox. 5,000Approx. 12,000

I am not anti technology.  I like/love the marine electronics we have (and the new stuff looks to be very kewl).  I am very, very glad we have them.  We use them.  When we are underway, one of us is on watch at the helm and the other is off watch and often below.  This means we only have one on our bridge and our marine electronics make this fairly easier.  But we are NOT 198 meters long!  We are 40 feet long.  While technology may have reached the level where the New Panamax monsters can be driven by one, should it really be?  
*A dock neighbor pointed out that "designed for one man bridge operation" does not necessarily mean that it is only manned by one person....she hopes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chasing the Spaghetti Monster

Looks like colored spaghetti to me
Lately we have been tracing all the various cables/wires running into and out of our nav station...aka....chasing the spaghetti monster as I like to call it. 
Sabrina in The Hole

Approximately 75% of ALL of our cabling runs from the cockpit locker (port side) through 3 very full holes in the fiberglass into the space behind our nav station.  

3 holes in fiberglass leading into nav station
All the cables were so tight in those 3 holes we had to drill a new 1" hole in order to run the cable for our new wifi booster The Bullet.  Slowly but surely we are getting everything ID'd and labeled.
Chasing the spaghetti monster under the helm
While most of the cabling is neatly bundled up with zippy ties and plastic wire loom, none is labeled - ARGH! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Getting Serious About Fishing

Or at least learning more about fishing.  Neither Tom nor I are currently fishing people.  We know little to nothing about it.  We like to eat fish.  However now that we are living aboard, opportunities have started presenting themselves for us to start to learn to fish.  I previously post about those opportunities  - net casting, shrimp and crabs

Awesome cruising chick Christy of s/v Hello World recommended the book "The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing" by Scott Bannerot and Wendy Bannerot.  If you pop over to their web site s/v Hello World, you will see that they are having some luck with their fishing/shrimping/crabbing lately along with breathtaking cruising locales and fabulous adventures.  Thanks for the recommendation Christy!  The book is written specifically for cruisers by cruises.  It's very comprehensive.  You can read all the way through it or simply turn to specific topics.  I chose to get the physical paperback book vs Kindle version because as a reference book, I thought that might be easier to grab on the fly when we needed it.  Can't you just see it now.....we finally snag our first fish while tolling underway and one of us reads out loud while the other follows the instructions to land it.  HA!  What a sight that would be.  Anyway....wish us luck. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Water Tanks on s/v Honey Ryder

Lower Y tool opens the outer port, mini I beam opens the inner port
We finally found the additional tool (it looks like a mini I beam) necessary to open the inspection ports on our water tanks.  The tank gauges have not worked since we purchased s/v Honey Ryder.  Tankage is one of the reasons we chose a Caliber.  We like BIG tankage.  Caliber tanks are build in as part of the hull and thus sit centerline.  However because of this, they are not perfectly rectangular.  They conform to the hull.  
Post we sawed off, under side of inspection port, broken gauges
Tank #1 - We found the tank gauge arm broken off and laying in the bottom of the tank.  There was some calcium build up on the post leading up to the gauge as well as the arm.  We have lived without gauges this far so we decided to saw off the post just on the underside of the gauge (no way to fix it), drain the tank, clean it and refill it.  Of course the access panel to all of this is under our pullman berth in the master stateroom.  Getting the broken off arm from the bottom corner of the tank proved to be a bit of a challenge. Tom was finally able to retrieve it using long kitchen tongs. 
Tank 1 under the Pullman berth - hosing it out
Tank #2 - Access to this inspection port was much easier with it in the floor of the main salon.  This tank had a similar situation as #1 in that the gauge arm was broken off as well.  However we couldn't find it at all.  We suspect it had been previously removed.  Additionally we discovered that the pickup hose had come free from it's cable tie mounting.  Even though it was resting on the bottom of the tank, the curve of the hose, means that it can't get the last 1" or so in the bottom of the tank.  It's something we can live with as it's only an inch.  We sawed off the post again like we did on tank #1 and did the same process as above - drain, clean, refill.  Voila!  Fresh, cleaned tanks. 
Tank 2, trying to get out the last inch of water
While we were draining tank #2,  I busted out my handy telescoping mirror - like the one a dentist would use to see your back teeth.  Why?  What were you thinking?  With this tool, we were able to see into the reflection and trace the pickup hose back into the far corner of the tank where it goes out of the tank toward the water distribution area (in the cockpit lazarette) and see the hose clamp on it.  Right next to that was the water intake as well as the vent.  Nice to be able to eyeball those.  Additionally, we discovered that our emergency (oh sh*t there is water pouring in the boat) whale pump doesn't work.  Gulp!  Good thing to find out here in the slip using it for general maintenance vs out there in a true emergency.  Repair kit is ordered for it.

Friday, August 23, 2013


The Bullet
The marina has free wifi.  It's been pretty good until lately.  Towards the end of July we were finding it really, really slow to the point that we were unable to do anything on the internet at various times. 
Tom assembling the Bullet
Then just over a week ago during a storm, a big lighting strike  knocked out 1/2 the marina wifi - the half that we connect to.  So now have to pack up our laptops and schlep up to the laundry/bath/clubhouse or over to the public library for free wifi.  Ugh!  We've done this once a day hoping that our end of the marina wifi would be fixed soon.  It's now been a week and a half.  Apparently the repair parts are on back order.  Double ugh!  
Sabrina mounting it temporarily on the side of the arch
I have been planning to get a wifi booster antenna at some point.  This seemed like the perfect time to bump that project up on the priority list.  We researched via internet and fellow cruisers.  The Bullet came out on top.  The majority of the cruisers here use it, many after trying other solutions first. 
Ready to boost - wifi that is
Our Bullet arrived and we temporarily mounted on the side of the arch.  We wanted to be sure we got it working before permanently mounting it.  We didn't have any luck connecting the first few times.  It was totally us.  D-oh!  This morning, with some advice from Caliber Chris (Thanks!), we got it up and running with a strong connection to the working part of the free marina wifi -at the other end of the marina.  Actually it picked up well over 12 wifi signals.  We have connected a wireless router to it so that we can run both laptops, iPad and our phones via wifi - thus saving $ on our data plans.  Tom remounted the antenna higher on the arch.  The next step will be to permanently secure the cable from the Bullet down into the boat.  *There are many ways to set up communications aboard.  We are still navigating our way through this with considerations not only for here in the marina environment but also once we are underway and in different locales.  

Rainy Days

It rains just about every afternoon lately.  This has made for interesting skies, some dramatic looking.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Salt Water Lessons - Good Grief, We Have A Reef

GROSS!  Soft and hard growth

Dorthy, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore! 
Our own reef
Wow!  Stuff grows fast in this environment.  This was after 1 1/2 months in the water.  Ooops.  We didn't intent to leave it in the water so long.  It was just one of those "Let's do it tomorrow."   Of course tomorrow is always one day away! 
Clean again

Yes, it's now out of the water and back on the arch.  Lesson learned.  Are others painting the bottom of their dinghy's and if so, with what?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bill's Our Man

Tom and Bill with the strainer and custom made tool
If he can't do it, no one can!
While working on the fridge / freezer recently, Tom was unable to unscrew the main strainer cap to get to the strainer and clean it.  He tried and tried and tried.  The fridge guy that come out many weeks back even tried but didn't have any luck either.  Tom decided that the only way was to removed the entire strainer and get it out onto the dock where he could really crank on the top to loosen it up.  This way in the future we could easily open it to clean the strainer. 
Nasty gross - obviously the strainer needed cleaning
Of course this wasn't an easy task getting it out because the attached hose didn't want to come loose - which is usually a good thing.  Tom had to cut the hose to get the whole strainer out and then replace the hose with new later when he reinstalled it.
Shined up strainer back in place
Once he finally got it out on the dock, he found he still couldn't get the top to unscrew.  Not good.
So he bummed a ride from Jessie and headed off to the propeller shop and our man Bill. 
Our new customize tool for removing the strainer cap
Bill has been a welder forever and worked at Dominey's propeller shop for the last 35 years.  He is also the guy that make our galley shelf bracket.  Bill's the man to know when it comes to anything to do with metal.  Let me tell you, he has worked on some very interesting stuff - good stories.  Big, huge props and shafts are just the start of what he has worked on through the years.
Strainer with customized tool
He delivered it back out to the marina the next evening.  He said there was NO WAY Tom would have ever gotten that cap off.  He had to apply heat and use a big vise with a special tool he made just for getting the cap off.  Apparently he looked around the shop and found a big stainless steel plug that would fit perfectly.  He put 3 notches in the plug thus allowing it work on our cap.  Once he got it off, he discovered a catch in the threads and realized we would have issues getting the cap off in the future without the help of this special, homemade tool so he gave it to us.  Very kewl! 
Strainer, cap and tool
We almost didn't recognized our own strainer because he bead blasted it clean to the point of looking brand new.
Easy-peasy removal of the cap now with our customized tool
Tom said "Bill, what do I owe you for getting this off and making this custom tool?"  Bill shrugged, made a funny face and said "$20?"  Tom tried to give him $30 but he wouldn't take it.  What a guy.  We are luck to have found Bill. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My New Sunshade

I have been thinking of making a sun/rain shade for some time.  Many, many boats here at the marina have sunshades that cover the main part of the deck and help cut down on the heat inside the boat.  There are various designs - some complicated, some simply plastic tarps.  There are fancy ones for sell - Shadetree looks terrific but $$ so I decided to make my own.

I ordered 20 yards of white 60" Surlast fabric off Ebay for $120.  I had a heck of a time figuring out the right side and wrong side.  After looking at it many times and getting a couple of opinions from fellow dockmates, I just went with what I thought was right.  I started last Saturday and finished installing the grommets Monday morning.  Just in time to test it out on a 95 degree day with heat index of 105-108.  While we don't have a thermometer inside the boat to tell us the temp (probably best we don't actually know how hot it is in there), our Nutella turned into a liquid!!  Tom says he can definitely tell a difference with the sunshade up.  He says the salon (which is covered by the sunshade) is cooler than our stateroom (that is not covered by the sunshade).  I still need to add some chafe guard now that it's up and make one for the foredeck but I am pretty please with the result of this one.  We even had a big storm Monday afternoon with high winds and it stayed in place nicely.  

A Bounty Of Bikes

The bike fleet
When we arrive in Brunswick, we only had one bicycle, my folding bike Ms Moneypenny.  She's a light weight, 16" (wheels) folding bike - think circus music.  Tom wanted to get a bike as well and started dutifully checking Craigslist for one.  Every time a candidate would come up, he would call the seller to find he had just missed out. 
The new 20" next to Ms Moneypenny
Inquiries with others around the marine soon found Tom the new owner of a used 20" folding bike.  It has some rust, shifts gears (sort of) and usually on it's own when it feels like it but rides really well.  Soon we were biking here, there and everywhere together.  Big fun and handy for runs to Central Hardware and The Grog Shop.  I found I had to peddle pretty fast on my 16" to keep up with Tom on the 20".
Rusty - the latest addition to the bike fleet
Several weeks went by when fellow dockmates got new to them folding bikes.  He had a full sized, older folding Dahon bike.  "Rusty" had gotten him many places but was getting very.....rusty.  They purchased a set of folding bikes so he no longer needed Rusty.  I asked what he was going to do with Rusty.  "Why?  Do you want it?  I was going to throw it in the dumpster."  I thought for sure that Tom would be interested so he said he would gladly give Rusty to Tom but was worried about all the rust on Rusty.  I assured him it was fine that Rusty had rust.  Did you follow all that?
It must be Xmas
Tom was like a kid on Christmas morning when I told him our dock neighbor was gifting Rusty to him.  They were "tickled Tom could use and enjoy it."  Next thing you know, the top of our dock turned into a full bicycle shop with our dockmates and Tom all tinkering with bikes.  By the way, we think of the rust on Rusty as a barrier coat, protecting it from getting stolen.  And it adds character.    
Rust - a new type of barrier coating
A quick run to a local bicycle shop and Wal-Mart netted us some vital parts (like a bike seat) along with some spares and a kewl FOLDING basket for the front of my bike. 
Off to The Grog Shop
So now we have THREE folding bikes.  I have taken to riding the 20"- yet to be named.  It's easier to ride however it's heavier to store so I am not sure if it will go with us or Ms Moneypenny.  Tom is riding Rusty exclusively.
Sweet ride
But for now, we are enjoying the bounty of bikes.  Total investment on the latest additions to the bike fleet - $50.         

After These Messages....

We'll be right back.  Remember that little jingle from TV yesterday years?
Sorry to be missing in action here on the blog.  It's been a busy week.  Additionally, the internet on our dock has been giving us fits.  However, stayed tuned.  Updates coming soon.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Two Month Anniversary

We arrived in Brunswick GA Friday, June 5th around 5pm, unlocked s/v Honey Ryder and thus officially moved aboard full time.  Happy Anniversary to us - all three of us (Tom, Sabrina, s/v Honey Ryder)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hair Cut Day at Salon Sabrina

Very long and bushy

"There's always a hat if this goes bad."  This is what Tom said just before I nervously began cutting his hair this morning.
Newly trimmed
The first thing you need to understand for those of you that don't know Tom, is that he has a terrific head of hair.  IMPORTANT NOTE - head of hair @ 50!  Impressive fact number one! 

B.  Full head of hair.  No bologna slice on the back.  Not even a slice of salami.
The back - fly aways on the right are from the fan blowing and not my cutting - at least that is my story

#3  He has exactly 2 gray hairs on his head (facial hair excluded)... aka nice head of hair!
Evening tussled cruisers look
So yeah.....I was nervous.  It didn't help that we slept in a little too late and the wind started picking up 1/2 the way through.  However we persevere as I  tried to remember what his hair gal taught me.  It really looks oh-kay for the first attempt.  Previously I had done a perimeter trim that turned out to be no big whoop, however this one was a the full enchilada cut. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bilge Rat Installs Second Bilge Pump - Check

New secondary bilge pump
s/v Honey Ryder only has ONE bilge pump.  Only O-N-E.  It's basically a combo bilge/shower sump pump.  It's good but it's only one.  When your home is floating, it's good to have more than one bilge pump.  There is an old saying "nothing pumps like a scared sailor with a bucket and water up to his/her knees" - or something close to that.  While that may be true, it's stupid.  We have the standard emergency access where we can hand pump from the cockpit (what is with the short handles on those!).  We also have a second backup emergency bilge pump mounted on the underside of one of our hatch boards.  Thank you Denny King for giving us that one.  That is our scared sailor bilge pump.  If all else fails, we will stand on that hatch board, drop a hose into the bilge and one overboard and pump for our lives.
Primary sump / bilge pump

We felt it was a MUST to install a secondary, backup bilge pump prior to heading out officially.  Plus my good friend and world sailor Floy absolutely forbid us from leaving the dock without one. 
Bilge Rat drilling the holes in the hanging locker for the hose
Tom aka Bilge Rat installed our second bilge pump this week.  He made a mounting plate out of scrap aluminum we got from marine electronics wizard Lester.  Thank you Lester.  He screwed it to the mast down in our bilge.
Bilge Rat designed and built this mounting
The hose was run to the starboard side of the boat up through the hanging locker in our stateroom.  *Standard Caliber layout is a vanity here but many owners have this converted to a hanging locker like ours.
Hose feed up through hanging locker

Secondary bilge pump hose run out to starboard side of boat - it's the black and clear hose
The thru hull for the secondary bilge pump is 1 1/8" and approx. 4 1/2 inches below our toe rail on the starboard side.   Thanks to Caliber Tim for the idea on routing the second bilge as well as the details and pics of his installation.
New hole for thru hull - who doesn't love drilling holes in their boat!

Hull thickness
There is a big debate in the boating world over looped vs check valve.  We are not going to debate it here.  Our primary bilge pump has a check valve built in because it's a diaphragm pump.  Tom included an awesome loop in the installation of this second pump so we do not have a check valve on it. 
Not a big fan of float switches.  It seems like ours was always getting hung up and thus not working.  We plan to install The Ultimate Bilge Pump switch to take care of that.  I guess we will sell the spare float switches on ebay or use them as giveaways to guests that stay onboard.
Secondary bilge pump mounted against the mast
 Secondary, backup bilge pump complete, check and check.