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Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Crossing A Life Milestone

Sometimes I need to slow down and breathe, savoring the moments in life happening around me. Last couple of posts I’ve alluded to how much July would throw at us…..and it has. I’m drinking it up. And, my lack of writing means I’ve been working…a lot.

But more important than the boatwork (by far) is the fact that my wife will cross one of life’s bridges tomorrow; by retiring. I’m very proud of her. Her retirement is a major personal milestone. – Did you know that most jobs don’t offer retirement or retirement plans (in the US) anymore? I didn’t know that- Although we are headed for a family milestone in Nov, her retirement is pretty huge for our family.

Teagan’s working on her first killer video for Kids Corner Friday and we’ll look at it to see if we can post it tomorrow or if we’ll do some more editing on it. With the completion of several very large projects on Tulum this week, I’m able to get back to the website.

If you know us, this blog will be a great way to communicate with us when we leave.

If you like our writing, follow us!

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Re-Blog: Catalina with the LiveFree 2 SailFast crew — brianb29

On Saturday I wrote about our trip to Catalina Island from San Diego but was remiss in not mentioning that we had crew on board; and they’re great friends and a fellow blogger.  Brian and Christina were our neighbors for a few years while they listened to all our wild sailboat dreams; till they decided to sell their own house and buy a sailboat on the east coast.  He had been talking about doing it…then they actually bought the boat and sold their house.  Then last year these guys decided to come experience bare boating and shared a 45′ bare boat catamaran with us, the kids and another couple in the BVI for 7 days of sailing; all of us getting our catamaran experience checked off.  Since they’ve since moved back to Southern California and we’ve moved onto the boat I knew Brian and Christina might jump at the chance to come visit Catalina with us….the slow way.

Here’s my original post from Saturday: San Diego to Catalina Island by Sailboat (And Back)

Brian’s got his own blog about his boat and boating life you can check out and perhaps follow if you choose at brianb29.com. (more…)

Great Dane on a Boat: Rain-Rain-Go-Away

I haven’t been on the blog or my computer for nearly a week.  We missed the usual Friday Kids Corner and the rest of my normal posting days.  In the last week or two we’ve road tripped, worked hard on the boat and continued to discover repairs that need immediate attention.  Stats definitely flog me for inattention to my writing.  This isn’t foreign to me as I value family road trips, work on the boat and actual adventuring…but still love to write when I have time and energy.  Sooo there’s more rain coming into So Cal on these atmospheric rivers sitting off the west coast and we’re predicted to get four more days of straight rain.  If I was in Seattle I’d understand rain, wind and coldy weather, but we’ve had not so great weather (lots of rain) since January.  Oh well, there’s always curtains to sew.  I’m in boat work season as we sit about five months from casting off so there’s no end to things that need attention and Michelle is still working full time.  The kids only have one more week of school, so that will have a definite impact on my work schedule.  In the last two weeks, I’ve gained a definite understanding about why you probably HIRE folks to do your brightwork (teak scraping, sanding and varnishing).  I’ve finished the scraping and sanding of the window frames all around Tulum and moved on to adding the base coats of varnish.  You can do one coat a day.  I’ve finished three coats and we’re trying to head offshore next week, so we’ll look pretty funny heading out with blue tape all over our windows but the tape is a pain in the ass to put on….so I may not take it off if I don’t finish (due to the rain).

This week I got motivated and ripped out all the old plumbing associated with the electric two heads we took off the boat.  With Francisco Cedillo’s (Cedillo Marine- 619 496 4116)) help, we opened (read holed) both holding tanks and cleaned them completely.  [I’m going to do a complete post on these two fun days of work, but a bit here too].  Now I’ll drop some reality on you…I was personally here when both holding tanks were pumped professionally and water was added several times to get all the solids out (we thought).  Dead Wrong!  When we opened the tanks, both tanks were about a 1/4 full of solids and hardened material…it didn’t all come out when Pepe La Poo pumped it.  The other reality is how heavy the lines were.  Several of the lines from both forward and stern heads were nearly 50% filled with solids…meaning that they would have eventually been stopped up completely.  Think through this….these are your hoses to and from your macerator and holding tank!

Here’s the first day of plumbing that we ripped out:

Day # 1- Forward Head Pluming ripped out.

Here’s the second day of plumbing and other assorted stuff ripped out from beneath my stern head:

Day # 2- Stern Head Plumbing and other assorted wiring ripped out.

TIP:  In the pics (if you look close) you’ll see diapers.  Diapers are cheap, absorbant and easily found.  They have elastic and can be easily positioned to catch anything that drips or leaks.

 

And now, Quincy speaks: (more…)

Installing a Composting Toilet on a Sailboat: For Dummies Like Me

As I alluded to on Monday, we took the plunge, and bought and installed our first composting toilet on our cruising sailboat, Tulum 5.  

Why did we make the decision to buy, install and use a composting toilet on our cruising sailboat?  

We’ve been thinking through changing out our toilets since buying the boat, for a variety of reasons.  Like other cruisers and boaters, I was concerned about the fact the our brand of toilets needed valuable power to run and smelled MUCH better when we were running fresh water through them (we have two).  We do have an option on Tulum to run salt through them, but fresh water smells better.  I was also concerned because although we have a 3-way valve on the boat; if we’re ever in a port we have to get our tanks pumped (at a cost of course).  Here in our Marina, this involves either moving the boat every week (we have two girls and two adults living on the boat full-time) or getting both our tanks cleaned once a week by a service.  We opted for option #2, which involves a $ cost…of course.  A composting toilet involves nearly no electricity (small amount for the vent fan but it’s not needed if you rig the right passive vent), involves no water at all, has few moving parts and is easy to dump and restart when needed.  Most major brands of composting heads are Coast Guard legal (meaning they’re just fine on boats) and…..best of all….there’s little to no smell.  Smells from our toilet, lines and holding tank have been an issue.  Although the holding tank looks fairly new and in good shape, it often wafts an unspeakable odor.  We’ve checked the vents, tightened the hoses, put in the right tank deodorant and done what the experts tell us to defray the smells, to no avail.  I’m not that penitent  about this decision to move on from a traditional boat head to the reality of a composting system.  Lastly, the Airhead Composting Head sits higher than the tiny toilets on our boat.  I love sitting down and not eating my knees when I’m sitting…and I’m a pretty short guy.  Lastly, why did we choose an Airhead over other brands?  I researched the other brands online for several weeks, but I liked the gentlemen I talked to on the phone with Airhead when I called.  He answered all my dumb questions and was thorough with me in all the details.  He knew his stuff and was proud of the product.  That’s who I wanted to buy from and we did. 

What about the install, doesn’t it take a lot of work and expense to get that done?  

Nope, the install wasn’t that bad.  I’m no mechanical, construction or electrical guru (at all) and I knocked it out in less than half a day.  But….this was after the minor electrical work was performed by Cedillo Marine (619-496-4116) to get minor power to the out vent fan (or you can use a passive vent) which took less than an hour.  Honestly, this is an install most folks on boats should be able to do themselves and Airhead provided good directions with decent pictures.  If I can do this….you can do this. (more…)

Great Dane on a Boat- First YouTube Appearance

Good morning, it’s been another long week (and without Jinxing us), we may have finally crossed the line into spring here, thankfully.  With better weather more work on the boat starts and we’re able to get back out to dog beach on Coronado Island.  Quincy has been working on her stress level since her long kennel stay (while we had the boat out of the water) and had a restful afternoon yesterday on the boat, take a look: (more…)

Saturday Sailboat Musings

I’m up early Saturday morning as usual because Quincy the Dog needed to go out, and when a Great Dane won’t let you sleep, there’s no ways of it you can avoid taking her for her walk. I used to just be able to open a glass door from my room at home and kick her out into the backyard, but here I’ve got to walk her and will continue to do so until November. When November comes, we’ll have to start taking her to shore 2-3 times a day for her walk and runs whenever we’re sitting in a harbor. It was a long week but I’m not sure why. I was in my 3rd class in a series at TRLMI, called Marine Electrical Systems. The course runs from 6pm to 9pm and after a day of work, it often turned into long days. I’m glad I took it, but there was alot of theory and equations. My days are filled with working on the boat and doing boat related projects, which I love to do + picking up and dropping off kids and dog. This week I was able to tour and photograph a 41′ Formosa Yankee Clipper built in 1980 in Taiwan. She was very similar to the boat I grew up on and brought back lots of memories. She’s on Sailboat Listings and will soon be available through a broker, but I’ll bring that to you in a separate story Mon or Weds. I also needed to get the Check Stays down from Tulum’s masts (so I could get them to the rigger for updating), so I rigged up my pulley’s and went up the mast for some adventure. Tulum’s Main Mast is 65′, so the second spreader is well off the ground:

Tulum’s Main with the check stay already taken off. It goes to the 2nd spreader on this main mast and to the top of the mizzen mast.

Here’s the connection at the second spreader that you have to manipulate to get the wire Check Stays off:

Shackles that have to be undone mechanically and by hand, with seizing wire that must be cut beforehand.
Tulum 5, from the second spreader.
And two Check Stays, off the mast and into the Riggers.

Next time up the mast, I’ll bring my track lube and my anti-corrosion spray for the metal parts, plus I’ll start the laborious task of getting mast steps back onto the mast. The frustrating part about this for me is that there’s tons of open mast step holes all over the mast (that’s how I’m getting water in the boat from the rain) and I finally found the mast step that matches those holes exactly. However, that specific mast step is priced at $20.65 per step, as opposed to the steps I can afford at $8.56 at the same store. Both steps are aluminum, but the more expensive one is also larger, meaning it would take fewer steps to get them up the mast. Very frustrating for me. So I let out a big sigh and bought a rivet gun. I’m gonna tackle that project myself and rivet the new steps on with holes I drill as much as I have to-

Ok, we’re changing up the website, we’ve turned on Patreon and I’ve started messing with my new video camera to try to start getting the editing and filming started. We’re gonna streamline our look a bit and try to professionalize the site a bit more. If you’re reading, keep it up. If you’re visiting, cool, thanks.

Thoughts on Hauling Out with Family

In getting ready to haul out our 51ft Sailboat for multiple upgrades, repairs and normal maintenance, I knew my wife would be in Japan the entire time and I still needed to maintain some semblance of a normal routine with my two young school aged girls. We looked very hard at hotels with kitchen near the boatyard and several Airbnb’s, but we would have paid over $1456 dollars total for 7 days. (the haulout turned into 11 days). This cost would have been on top of the food costs, haul out costs, subcontractor costs and every other costs. After talking to our friend and experience yacht broker from Yachtfinders/Windseakers, we just decided to stay on the boat while she was hauled out. This did present some challenges as we were not allowed to dump gray water (no dishes or our tank would fill up) and we didn’t coordinate our black water tank cleaning well, so we had to make sure it was cleaned while we were 16 feet up on the hard. We also had to adjust to the kids clearing the gap from boat to ladder and the boat vibrating in it’s scaffolding at night, but things went well. The boatyard had nice bathrooms and showers and seemed to go with the flow of having young children there in the late afternoons. However, the boatyard started work early, so we tried to be off the boat by 0700 and the kids often were back by 4pm.

If you haul your boat out and want to live on it (with or without kids) here’s some of the things you may experience:

Tulum 5, on the hard at Shelter Island Boatyard
We tried to position the ladder in several places close enough for the kids to get on the boat, but in the end, it worked but it was in the paint crew’s way.
Yep, there’s a pretty good distance between rain and ladder, I made sure our minds were in the game for this transition.
My 9-year old (Teragan’s) first time up the ladder. She wasn’t all that happy about this first time but took to it well and in the end, taught mom how to do it. (Yeah, it’s a long way down).
Your boat will probably have alot of scaffolding and bracing like ours. We got used to it and make it work.
Plan your haulout better than I did, so you DON’T have to get pumped in the middle of it. Hard to make this work with two little girls on the boat with tiny bladders. Just had to be done.

So in the end, if I can live on my cruising sailboat on the hard with two little kids while my wife is traveling on business, you can too. Note: Quincy the Great Dane was not with us, we kenneled her for this little adventure.

Still Hauled Out

I’m around but distracted because Tulum has been hauled out since late Tuesday but her bottom’s not even started yet.  The damn cold and wet weather patterns have not helped.  These Jan/Feb/Mar months have been the wettest and coldest I’ve ever experienced in San Diego.  In order to save approx $1400 dollars on hotel or Airbnb costs, we elected to stay on the boat and then yard happily obliged.  We have power and our crack poop pumper showed up at the yard with a 100 foot hose to clean us out,,,although the yard has very nice heads and a private shower.  Climbing the 16 feet to the boat via ladder has not stopped the girls but they have had to learn to slow down and allowed me to help them across the expanse from ladder to boat.  The yard starts early in the day and ends work early in the day, something we’ve gotten used to and have worked through.  I think we’ll go back in the water by this coming Thurs/Fri, just in time for Michelle to get back from her Japan trip and miss all the fun boat work in the yard projects.  I’m sure she’s jealous!

Here’s a shot of her hauled, more later this week-

Prepping for Haul-Out, Thoughts On My Own Projects

http://livefree2sailfast.com/2019/03/02/haul-out-and-yard-work-on-the-horizon-for-tulum-v

After I published the project list (above) I had discussed with the boatyard, I started thinking through everything I would work on while Tulum was out of the water.  This is in addition to getting the kids fed and to/from school every day (Quincy will be in the kennel and Michelle is on business in Japan for two weeks).  As I went down the list, it became longer and longer and there’s no way I’ll finish while she’s out of the water.  So I just decided to think through it during this post, knowing what tools and supplies are on the boat – while having to think through what I need to get out of the dockbox.  Here goes:

  • Using the templates I have, cut and install the new sound/heat barriers in the bilge spaces under the galley floors.
  • Install new heat/sound barrier in the engine room.
  • Take off heat shield material on engine exhaust piping and install new heat shield and heat shield tape.
  • Find out where the lower coolant drain is- drain and change engine coolant.
  • Find out where the engine thermostat is- change it (make sure you buy extra thermostats).
  • Drain and Change Engine Oil.
  • Figure out how to get into the space and change the impeller (take existing impeller kit and buy two more prior to changing it).
  • Change the primary Fuel Filter (canister)- at the boatyard we’re right next to a large Marine store- get extra canisters.
  • Change the primary Oil Filter (canister)- at the boatyard we’re next to a large Marine Store- get extra canisters.
  • Pick up Main Sheet (getting a new one made) and reattach to the main.  Take off the mizzen Main Sheet and have a new one made.
  • Install new speakers in the cockpit, stern boxes and main salon.  Run the wires and install Amp and Stereo Face.

Should be an interesting haul-out, as most of the week looks like we’re going to get rain.  This means I can’t do the deck sealing and I can’t start the varnish nightmare, so I’ll focus on the projects above.  Should keep me busy.  It I get through even half the list, I’ll be impressed.

 

Pulled Pork using Big Green Egg – 1st Use of the BGE on our Sailboat

As I write this, I’m overcome by how far we’ve come as a family since last Presidents Day Weekend.  Here’s the link to my post past year (but the pics are missing for some reason): http://livefree2sailfast.com/2018/02/19/two-boats-in-1-weekendwhat-the-hell/.  Presidents Day Weekend last year we closed on Tulum 5 and bought our dinghy in the same weekend.  So, this is actually our one year anniversary of owning our boat.  Yeah!

I posted about getting a Big Green Egg for my birthday: http://livefree2sailfast.com/2019/01/12/your-introduction-to-my-green-egg-cooking-experience/.  I’ve been having a mount built for the boat that will hold the Big Green Egg securely and safely for cooking on the boat.  (more…)