Sunday, April 24, 2016

Financing the mast pull (aka - selling the Harley)

My old 2002 Softail Deuce

Howdy Folks,

Kara and I spent yet another weekend away from Vela.  That's two in a row now and if we're going to ever get her ready to go, we can't afford too many streaks like that.  Particularly when you consider we'll likely miss next weekend too, so we can move some stuff into our little condo.  Our renters moved out this weekend. 

Cleaned up and ready for a new home
We had originally planned to go down to Houston and work on a few things this weekend.  Replacing a few aged hose clamps and drying out the bilge, now that we've repacked the stuffing box.  But those plans changed when I got a call last week from an actual person that was interested in buying my old Harley.  I've had it listed on Craigslist for sometime and if you've ever tried to sell anything of value on CL, you know it's full of scammers.  "Hi sir, is your Motorcycle still for sale?  I'm traveling for the military right now and visiting my sick aunt in Tawain but I'd like to send you payment via PayPal plus $700 for your trouble, and then of course shipping fees to get it to me".  So it was refreshing to talk with someone who was actually interested in an honest transaction.  This guy was driving in from Colorado to buy the bike and was bringing cash, so we knew he was serious.  We cancelled our Houston trip, rounded up all the paperwork, cleaned up the bike and then sold it early yesterday morning early.

New owner loading the bike up.

I have mixed feelings on the sale, I loved that bike but the cash we got for it will completely cover a big project we have scheduled for May.  While we're waiting on the new arch to be completed, allegedly sometime in 2016...we've decided to pull the mast to install our radar.  Surprisingly, it's cheaper to pull the mast and install the radar and associated conduit while the mast is down, than it would be to add the conduit with the mast up.  This will also allow us to replace all our masthead instrumentation, antennas, add a Windex and likely a TV antenna.  While it's down, we'll also be adding a whisker pole, track, mast mount and associated rigging.  All those extras add up pretty quick and let's just say that the bike sold at a great time.  While I'll definitely miss the bike, I've always known I'd be selling it to finance 'the dream' and it's really nice having the cash in hand to cover another project without impacting our efforts on beefing up the cruising kitty (investment account) at the highest rate possible.

Kara and I have been talking a lot this weekend about our little dream and how it's starting to take shape.  It's still overwhelming and a bit terrifying to consider the fact that we're a year away from our planned departure date from the working's also very VERY exciting.  Still, we have a lot to do between now and then. 
  • Sell our lake house (currently on the market)
  • Move to Condo
  • Remodel condo bathroom to increase rental value
  • Move from condo in Austin aboard Vela in Houston
  • Quit two great jobs (talk about an oh-shit moment)
  • Begin our slow migration to...wherever

So it's been a good weekend, but we really need to start knocking off some of these major projects.  For now I'm trying to focus on the fact that we can now pay for at least 1 more of them, and once again....that's a win in my book.

Thanks for stopping by.

Hope the new owner loves this bike as much as I did.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ripping Vela a New One and Installing a Buzzkill - By Erin

Friday afternoon sail
 Howdy Folks,

Kara and I just got back from a LONG weekend with Vela.  From a calendar perspective, it was just a normal weekend but we where both pretty tired at the end of it, so it felt much longer.

Since we where both down in Houston for work on Thursday, we where actually able to get out for a sail on Friday afternoon/evening.  We knew it was going to be a crazy busy weekend so we made it a point to get out and enjoy the amazing weather while we could.  I should probably share the fact that after a long week at work, neither of us really felt like getting everything ready to go out.  In fact, I think we where both pretty tempted to just be lazy and relax with a few drinks at the dock.  But we've been frustrated lately with the fact that all we seem to do is work when we're down at the boat.  So we drug our lazy asses off the settee and got out for a couple great hours of sailing.

My chicky at the helm and all the new sails drawing.  Happy Friday!
Believe it or not, the weather in Houston in early spring is actually really nice.  So, once we got out there we where both really glad to of the dock and Vela seemed happy for the exercise.  It was the first time we got all the new sails out.  Add in a 10 knot breeze and it was great.  We got in quit a bit of tacking just see how the new sails felt and overall it was great night.

We got back to the dock just before sunset, grabbed some dinner and enjoyed enjoyed sunset in the cockpit before turning in  early to be ready for Saturday's big project, adding a new secondary bilge pump.

For this project we're working with Gary Deason, a local boat services guy that is super friendly and actually seems to enjoy working with folks who are prepping to go cruising and want to be involved in the refit process.   Sure it would be easier to just showing up and have it all done for us, but we want to know where every hose, wire, thru-hull and component is located.  Which means this is exactly the kind of help we need.  In addition, Gary comes from a Coast Guard background and brings a ton of experience to the table.  The fact that he's very relaxed and likes to teach as he goes really helps.  It's also nice that he takes in our suggestions/requests, incorporates what makes sense and explains when he feels like another option would be better.

Our workspace - planning the project.
So at 9 AM Saturday morning, we started laying out the project, examined several potential hose routes, measured for the final hose run and made a run to West Marine for the parts we knew we needed.  Of course, Kara also made a couple mid-project runs but that's one of the reasons we chose the marina we're in now, it's convenient to everything...except home ;)

  I should probably mention that the rule 4000 (4000 GPH) pump we installed required a 2" smooth bore inner diameter hose, with a surprisingly high list price per foot.  However, working through Gary meant that we got the hose at about half the list price (thanks to his port supply discount).  So that saved us a good bit which helped cover part of his fees for helping us.

Mounting the new bracket/pump

When we got back aboard, Gary mounted the bracket for the new pump down in the bilge while I drilled the holes under the starboard settee for the auto/manual switch, buzzer/alarm/light and fuse holders.

Drilling new holes for switch, buzzer, and fuses

The concept here is that since this is purely a secondary/emergency pump for us, we want to know anytime it's running.  So we wired in an obnoxious buzzer and red light that run anytime the pump is running (either manually or automatically via float switch).  We did wire it, so that if we ever had to run the pump for an extended period of time, we can physically disable the buzzer by removing a single connection (which we're referring to as Buzzkill).  Hey, if we're ever in a situation where we need to run this thing, it will be stressful enough without having to listen to that buzzer.  But it's great to get your attention so that, you know there is a potential problem.

Kara laying down on the job (aka boat yoga)

While routing the hose we ran into a good deal of extra hose for the primary pump that was causing us some issues, so Kara and I spent a couple hours shortening and remounting that hose in the giant rear lazerette.   In the picture to the right she's partially inside the compartment where our hot water heater usually sits.  It's been removed and is laying beside her on the left.  She had to worm her way in here to help me access the hose we're re-routing.  I'm in the lazerette on the opposite side, doing my best not to swear to much, like a....sailor.

Down in the lazerette.  Here I'm cutting a bulkhead to route the new hose.

While we where doing that, Gary installed ring terminals on the wires and connected up the pump and switches.  We then reviewed the wiring, tested everything and verified it all worked as expected.

Because who doesn't love cutting giant holes in their boat?

In the end, this project took the 3 of us about 11 hours from start to finish and by the time we wrapped up about 8 PM Kara and I where way too tired to go checkout the Kemah crashfish and Zydeco festival we had planned to attend.  So, we did our best to scrub the fiberglass off our skin with a shower (never an easy task), ordered some Chinese food delivered to the boat, and relaxed in the cockpit.  Of course we where also cleaning up from the days events as we went.

On Sunday, we finished the cleanup.  Spent a little more time on the windlass and are now happy with how it's handling the new anchor and chain.  We still have some work do to getting the anchor secured on deck in a way that we'll be happy with for the long-term, but we're very close there.

While in the lazerette we also had to add a new thru-hull on the transom to give us a direct exhaust for the new 2" hose.  So yeah, we ripped Vela a new one.  Here you can see what it looked like when scored from the outside with a 2.5" holesaw.  We finished the process off from inside the lazerette and installed our new thru-hull fitting.

Overall it was a great...OK successful weekend of boat projects.  It was nice having someone there to guide us through installing the new pump, hoses and wiring.  Kara and I worked well together throughout the day, which is always a big plus.  Particularly given the tight, itchy uncomfortable work.  That in combination with a little sailing makes this a win in my book.

t- 1year-sh....and counting

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tough Decisions - By Erin

My Chicky and Buster, with a few Texas Bluebonnets.

Howdy Folks,

It's been a while since we've posted and that's mainly due to the fact that Kara and I have had our hands full with a ton of projects both at home and on Vela.  Most of the time we're pretty upbeat on our little blog here, because for the most part this whole process has been pretty fun and exciting.

But as they say, it's not all rainbows, unicorns and sunny beaches.  Sometimes the decisions and steps required to prep for the lifestyle we so badly really really tough.  This is one of those times and I just thought I'd share.

Today, we dropped our dog Buster off with two of our best stay.  We've begun the process of selling our lake house, a place that both Kara and I love and if we weren't planning to cruise, would definitely keep for the long term.  But since we'll be leaving to cruise, it makes sene to sell the house for several reason.  Primarily, because it's expensive, far from work, further from the boat and worth a good deal more than when we bought it 5 years ago, which means it will feed the cruising kitty and let us completely payoff Vela (and possibly the condo).  But all that's just $ and not really the important thing here.

We knew when we began our journey towards cruising, that we would eventually have to give up Buster and that's honestly been one of the hardest parts of the whole "dream".  We personally know people that have cruised with their dogs and have read several blogs along those lines as well but we knew that for us and Buster that just wasn't an option.  You see, Buster is a German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) and is very high energy.  He's not happy unless he gets an hour (or more) of very high intensity exercise, something we know we can't provide regularly on the boat.  We also know that we want to go places where his being from the US would cause too many issues due to many countries who are unaffected by rabies requiring serious quarantine time for animals from the US.  Buster's just not the kind of dog who wants to live on a boat, in fact he hates it on the boat.  So while we completely understand why others would never want to make the decision to give up their trusted friend and choose to take them cruising with them, we knew it wasn't the right fit for Buster.  He doesn't even like spending weekends on Vela, much less living there full time.  He needs to run and chase SQUIRRELS and deer and roll in the grass and pee and poop on just about everything.

So yeah, we knew this day was coming.  Of course that doesn't make it any easier.  The fact that he went to live with our good friends and their two daughters does helps a bit.  He knows them well and loves them and they love him.  In fact, he's stayed with them many many times in the past when we've been traveling.  That and the fact that they recently lost their dog, makes this seem like a natural fit for everyone and we know that Buster will be happy there.  Now we just have to get our heads around it.

So I'm just sitting in the back yard, of a house we both love, staring at the lake and listening to the birds as the sun sets and hoping we're not crazy to be selling this place...and wondering why it's so damn quiet.  It's going to take some time to get used to life without our Buster-dog around.  In my head I know it was the best thing for him, but it still hurts my heart to look down at my feet and not see him curled up there...

Our next major project will be selling the house and moving back into our condo.  We had hoped we could make it work living at the house and while it's been a great year...the reality is that it's just too long of a drive for us.  We should be moving things back into the condo at the end of the month one way or the other.  The great news is that we'll be dogsitting Buster several times over this summer and will see him as often as possible.  Still, this is a tough day.

For me, it's probably the hardest one I've had since we started this whole process.  I'm just completely drained emotionally.

But hey, if it was easy everyone would be doing it. I just have to focus on the fact that it's the best move for Buster.  Once I can wrap my head around that, it's back to the never ending list of boat projects.  After all, a year isn't much time to knock out the rest of the refit list and get ready to start our cruising adventure.  And once you go through something like this as part of that preparation process, it somehow makes you feel more committed to untying those dock lines and going.

So I know we'll get there eventually but right now all can think is...I miss you Buster Boo.

Me and my buddy