If its not raining its pouring, and on a boat that means something that shouldn’t be getting wet is. Finally able to enjoy a hot shower, and we have a pretty spacious one for a boat,
I noticed a bit of water trickling into the bilge from the shower floorpan. Upon inspection it turns out some of the caulk is giving way. Ok, no big deal I think. But it seems the PO (“previous owner” or putz originale in this case) had seen the issue and used silicone to try to stop up the leaks. Silicone on a boat is a general no-no. Once you put it on something it makes that thing so slick that nothing else will stick to it, even more silicone caulk when the leak comes back. The only way to remove the old silicone is to scrub, scrub, scrub, and scrub it again with nasty chemicals that help lift it up. Even when you can’t see it, these chemicals pull more of it out of the surface somehow. So after pulling strings of all the old stuff out and scrubbing like mad, I caulked it up anew with better boat goo and closed it all back up. Who would have thought it would have been a whole Manhattan Project to get to the point of being able to shower in this boat?
Now, hopefully, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
This is a fairly technical post, so if you only want to read about lifestyle stuff, skip on ahead. This boat came to us wired for European electricity. That means 220V, but more problematic, 50hz systems. The boat works by having a bank of huge batteries that most stuff runs off of. The batteries are charged by (i) plugging into shore power (big electric outlets at a dock), (ii) running the engines or generator or (iii) solar. A 220V cannot plug into US (or Mexican) shore power. So while the boat was in Mexico, we relied on the solar panels to keep the batteries topped up. It worked because we weren’t there and there was almost nothing using power. Once we got it back to the US, we would have to do something about it. That’s where mad electrical scientist Mark Yerex comes in.
Neko’s patron saint
Mark flew down to SF from Seattle and over the course of a weekend, he and I wired the boat to handle 120V power of the type found in the US and many other places. This involved a new shore power inlet.
120V wiring up to a new charger/inverter (this is a device that charges batteries and converts DC battery power to AC power to run appliances) and wiring out to new 120V AC outlets (just like in your house) throughout the boat to go with the European outlets already there (the ones with two round prongs).
Sounds a lot simpler than it was, but now we could plug into a dock like a normal American boat and keep the batteries charged up and run the various appliances on the boat (lights, refrigerators, stereo, outlets for computers, etc.). Things were getting closer to normal. However, two issues remained: 1) the laundry could only run on the old 220V system. That is not a big deal so we left it as is. We’ll just run the generator whenever we want to do laundry. 2) We couldn’t make hot water with our newly introduced shore power. (I am finally getting around to what this post was supposed to be about). This was a problem since showering involved walking up the dock to the communal showers – not to mention not having hot water to wash dishes, etc.
Our water heaters (we have one in each hull) made hot water when the engines (we have one of those in each hull too) were running or when 220V electricity was available (from a European dock or the generator). They were not wired to accept 120V electricity even after the aforementioned total rewire. Don’t ask why, its just the way it was. Sooooo, re-enter Master Yerex advising by telephone. With his tutelage, I created a new switch box with two 3-way rotary switches. I led a new 120V wire from the inverted to a breaker and then to this new box and installed the box in spare space in a cabinet. The rotary switches have positions for 120V, 220V and off. There is one for each water heater. Then with a few tweaks to the water heaters and double checking and testing all the wiring, we were ready to go. Fire it up and give it several hours for the tanks to heat up, and voila!
Trust me, it is HOT!
Holy cow, what a couple of weeks! Right on schedule, the Economous
Park City ski gang
and the Prince clan along with old standby Chad Markle showed up in Park City for our annual ski weekend. Even though snow was scarce in Park City, we had a fabulous time. The kids are such good skiers and boarders now that the old folks are relegated to just trying to keep up. The very same day everyone left, Mary and I packed up the house and animals and embarked on the 2-day trip back to SF. We had sold our house while in Park City, so we had one week to get back to SF, get rid of a lot of stuff and pack the rest for storage or transport to the boat. Once we got back home a frenzy of giving stuff away, selling a few things and packing the rest began. We filled a 24 foot truck with stuff and jammed it into a small storage unit in Sacramento, where it will live for the foreseeable future.
Edward and Anne graciously agreed to store my motorcycle until I could pick it up. Mary and I packed the car and truck to the gills with stuff we would have to find a way to store on the boat. (LA is so car-centric that even a boat slip comes with two parking spots). She drove the car and took Mr. Kitty and I drove the truck and took Lucy. After a grueling drive, we unpacked into the night. Our remaining earthly belongings were scattered about outside on the deck of our boat. We couldn’t go any farther and crashed for the night. Lots left to do, but we had made the transition. Let the new life begin!