Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Update

So the weather was a lot colder and much windier than predicted. (thank God for space heaters) A bouncy day, but I was able to get the major projects done. Fortunately, there wasn't too much left to do on deck except mounting a bulk head compass. Seems the previous owner put all his trust into electronics and used his GPS for his headings as well. Don't get me wrong, electronics are a good thing, (not sure Bernard Moitessier would agree, but that's a whole other conversation) it's just after years of being in the technology field, I am quite certain having a non-electronic navigational device on-board was probably a very good idea. So that was my big adventure today. A pretty simple job to be honest but it always makes me cringe a little cutting a hole in the boat. Especially a 4 inch diameter hole. But all went well. To make it even easier, I had some very helpful neighbors on-board...makes it more fun.:) Thanks Robert and Iverson!

Besides wiring up the compass and scrubbing mold that loves to hide in obscure corners of old boats, my day is coming to an end. The wind finally died down and the creek is like glass. Should be a great night. And after a movie from Netflix and a little dinner, I will call it a day.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Room with a View

Nothing better than kicking back in the cockpit with a coldie after a busy day and taking in the view.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Time to get Motivated

It's snowing here again in Asheville today, but the weather at the boat is looking pretty good for the weekend, more or less anyway. I haven't been in a while, so I am going to take advantage of the sunshine and see what projects on the list I can knock out over the next couple of days. This has been some winter but, from the pictures of the snow you all have posted on your sites, I don't have to tell you that.

On a different note...for those of you who are pulling the marina's wifi signal and have low connection speeds or spotty signals in general, you might want to check this out. I just purchased the ALFA AWUS036H long-range USB adaptor as I could barely pick up a signal at the end of my finger pier. Let me tell you, for $40 bucks, it was the best money I have spent in a long time. I originally tried it at home to see what it was all about. It's a very small unit, so it's a good fit on a boat. It came with 2 antennas, one about 6 inches and one about 14 inches.

A quick test showed that I could pick up about 3 wireless routers with just the laptops receiver. After installing and plugging in the ALFA with the 6 inch antenna, I was able to pick 9 different signals and the 3 that I could barely pick up with computer alone were at full signal strength. Now, when I went with the 14 inch monster antenna, I was able to pick up 16 different signals. One of those signals was the Asheville town center free WIFI that had to be at least a quarter mile away if not more. Truly a worth while purchase for anyone having issues with signal or anyone that will be on the hook and would like to have Internet.

Might as well keep the techie vibe going here. I have finally finished the set-up of the SeaClear navigation software on the laptop. I am all for getting as much free stuff as possible, so this was a great alternative. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should. Once it's all set, it turns your computer into a very accurate chartplotter with all of the charts you need free as well. So here is how it works.

Once you download the free SeaClear software, you need to get the charts downloaded as well. If you go to the NOAA site, they are all available for download, again for free. I went with the Atlantic charts from Maine to Cape Horn...hey, I can dream. :) The only thing you need to purchase is a USB GPS puck. It cost me $40 bucks but with everything else free, not a bad investment.

Once it's all set-up, a little red boat floats in your slip on the chart and you are ready to go. A few cool can do all of your planning and create routes which you can access and run at anytime. It shows waypoints and a bread-crumb lines for you to follow. You can set a ton of preferences like, if you get a certain distance of the line, an alarm goes off. As well, it shows speed, heading and a dozen other bits of useful info. You can also set an anchor alarm which I love as well. The coolest feature however is the seamless movement between charts. So when you get to the end of one chart, it automatically puts you on the next chart and you are on your way. So check it out and let me know if you have any questions.

Will give an update from the boat tomorrow or Saturday. Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Light at the end of the Tunnel?

Over the weekend, we got some snow down at the boat. Not sure how much exactly, but the weatherman was talking a few inches. The worst part however was the winds that accompanied that snow. They were out of the west gusting to 40 mph. Normally, a wind like that isn't too bad, but because it was from the west, it blew all of the water out of the creek and many boats in the marina were high and dry. Fortunately, I am at the end of the finger pier and never lose all the water, but from what I was told, all of the boats were at least kissing the mud. I feel for a few of the live aboards out there. That just has to be the worst, bumping the bottom all night long as the winds move you around in the mud. Hang in there guys.

I look back at the blog and see the weather going bad in basically the second week of November and staying bad till now. That's a long couple of months of below freezing temps, rain, heavy winds, snow and ice. Makes me wonder how the northerners that expect this kind of winter do it year after year. A couple of blogs I follow discuss living in northern marinas during the winter. Seeing 2 feet of snow on deck is a scary thought. Makes me want to get Skylark south as soon as possible and stay there. :)

But, looking at the weather this week, it seems like we might have a slight break in the action. Up to 53 degrees today and near 50 and sunny for the rest of the week. Now that sounds a bit promising. To be honest, I completely understand that it's winter and we tend to get cold weather during this time of year. :) This year however has been the worst since the 70s so it is a bit extreme and to me quite depressing. I can only hope it starts to get better from here on out so things can get back to normal.

Soon, I will have Skylark pulled to do a bottom job before folks start getting antsy about the spring and there is a wait. Once that's done, I can concentrate on the last bits of prep before heading down to Florida. If we get the weather, I am thinking the second or third week in March. But who knows, the weather could last till April, but I am trying to be hopeful. In the mean time though, there are still things to do and I will keep you updated as I get things done.

I threw in a couple of pics from last summer to ease these winter blues. That's my son on the bow of Skylark on his first visit to the boat. And the picture of Amy and I was taken at Lake Lure in North Carolina. Not much sailing there, but a great time was had exploring on a 17 foot run-about.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Wish List

A lot of folks keep asking me what's left on the "to-do" list. Basically, there are just a few to-dos that need to happen prior to the trip down to Florida and I had recently mentioned most of them in a previous post. But of course, there are a ton of "love to haves" and that falls into a completely different category...the Wish List.

Now, the Wish List is a whole other animal and I thought I would run down a few items I had jotted down the other night. This exercise, I admit, is a bit depressing as the cost of all these wonderful wishes would certainly make most folks cringe. But it was good to see where my head was and if nothing else, I can prioritize a bit and maybe get through a few of them a little at a time. So in no particular order, here is the official "Wish List" for the sailing vessel Skylark...

Mast Head Wind Vane
Mast Head Main Halyard Pulley
Main Halyard (switching from cable to rope)
Dodger (Have the skeleton need the canvas)
Bimini (Have the canvas, need the skeleton)
Solar Panels and Regulator
Davits (Arch set-up to secure solar panels)
Inflatable Dingy
Outboard for Dingy
Port Light Replacements
House Battery Bank (4 deep cells)
Rebuilt Atomic 4 or replace
Fuel Tank
V-birth Mattress
Quarter Birth Mattress
Refrigeration Rebuild
Hot Water Heater
Pressurized Fresh Water System
Second Bilge Pump
Standing Rigging
Air Conditioner/Reverse Heat Pump
LED Light Fixtures
Rail Mounted BBQ Grill
Deck Gelcoat and Non-Skid Painting
Shower Sump

So there you have it. If you know anyone who is looking to give away money for no particular reason, please let me know. In the mean time, I will continue with my plans to win the lottery.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hits the Mark

Pretty sure that most sailors and cruisers out there would find this cartoon strikes a cord. I can safely say I have reached the same conclusion in about half the time. :) Makes me laugh every time I see it. (Then I sit in the corner and cry a little)