Monday, October 24, 2016

And a new fire pit. . . .

The Marina's new marble fire ring:  first fire.
You may recall one of our earlier posts (including some rather scary video) was of the installation of a fire pit here at the marina (see here).  Well the thing worked just fine, and was covered with some lovely ceramic work. . . until some pack of drunks (we never figured out who did this) made a fire in the thing that was so hot it exploded the bricks, shattered the tile, and cracked the concrete.  We (and the Marina staff) were unamused.  So the poor thing sat there most of the summer covered over.  Tom searched around and managed to find a company up in PA that recycles marble countertops into fire rings.  So we bulldozed the old one and assembled the new one in a better spot and, last evening, lit our first fire of the season.

Fall is in full swing here, with a couple of days of chilly temps and wind.  The woodstove is working well and we'll be doing a followup on that shortly, but today the temps were back up into the high 60's, and the sun was out.  I've come to love this time of year.  Our pair of beggar ducks have come by the boat wanting to be fed so often, the cat no longer cares.

Yeah, they're ducks.  So what?  Where's my cat food?
The trees are going into full color, the crab are still running but the oysters are in and wonderful, bald eagles have replaced the Ospreys patroling the river, and we're having a lovely time here on the water.

More stuff at Life, Art, Water, check it out.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Gas One Dual Fuel Stove Followup

So I thought, having lived with this thing a bit, that we might do an update on our assessment of this little stove.

First of all, we have moved from butane to propane and back a couple of times, as our stocks of the above gasses were used up.  Despite propane being a bit less energy dense than the butane, we've seen no perceptible difference in the heat, including during sustained high heat uses like roasting coffeebeans.  As the mornings have gotten chillier, we've seen none of the reluctance in the propane that we see in the butane cylinders below 50 degrees F, which is a rather nice plus in the morning coffee and tea department.

We are getting slightly more use at slightly less cost from the propane as opposed to the butane. The difference winds up being about a buck per two cylinders of propane (16 oz).  Such difference would be more than wiped out if we were having them shipped as the propane bottles are appreciably heavier.

We have yet to adapt the system to a larger propane bottle that could be refilled, though that is obviously possible.  We may be trying that in a month or so and will give you a full report.

Changing the system from propane to butane is simple and not at all onerous.  The thermocouple safety device took a bit to get used to, but once we did, it proved no problem.

In general, we're pleased with the little stove.  The ability to use multiple fuel sources, coupled with our woodstove, gives us a lot of options and it would be a boon to long distance cruisers.  Stay tuned, more on this later.

The fall has hit here in full force and we're now in the grips of a lovely Indian Summer her on the river, with cool nights and warm days and the trees changing color.  We're close to decanting another batch of hard cider.  It's gonna be a lovely fall.

New stuff over at Life, Art, Water.  Check it out.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Why we live here, the sequel

So today it was "knock knock" Ahoy the Boat, and one of our slipmates, who is a diver, stopped by saying they had just come from diving off Kent Island and would we like some fresh oysters?

Is that even a question?  Hells yes.

So here we are eating away at some four dozen of the freshest raw oysters I've ever had.

Life in a beautiful place with good and generous friends is EXTREEEEEMLY low on the suckage scale, Just Sayin'.

enjoy the fall....and if you ever have the chance to live on a boat, the proper answer is: "yes, thank you, I'd love to."


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: Gas One Dual Fuel Portable Stove

Since beginning this enterprise afloat some three years ago, we've used a little butane catering burner as one of our primary cooking tools .  The little stoves work really well, have a high heat output, are self igniting, and in general, are very low hassle items.  They are not, however, without their drawbacks:  Butane cans can be rather hard to find (unless you have an asian market near) and pricy if you're getting them from a big box store or marina (we've seen them as high as $7.00 a can, which is absurd).  While the Butane burns hot, it doesn't like low temperatures.  Below 50 degrees it really doesn't want to work very well, and then, of course, there is the disposal of the cans issue.

So I was intrigued when I noticed on them interwebs that Gas One made a dual fuel (butane and propane) version of the stove.  As our old stovetop, after over four years of use in a variety of circustances (including camping, vending, and here on the boat) was getting rather rusty and battered looking, I picked one of them up for about $40.  Like it's predecessor, the stove is pretty solidly made, and sports a large pot ring, which is good because, as noted, we cook a LOT.

The Gas One dual fuel. 

The new stove is a pretty simple setup and is virtually identical to the original Gas One butane stove, with a single exception.  The nipple around the fitting where the butane can usually pugs in is threaded to take a hose adapter.  The hose, about 24" of it, has the adapter on one end and a regulator on the other.  To use it, you pop out the butane can, screw in the hose, screw a propane bottle into the regulator on the other end, and cook.
Here's the normal Butane bottle position.
The dual fuel stove comes with this hose adapter, which is quite solidly made.

The hose itself is rather stiff, and we had a bit of a wrestling match to get it to not coil back up over the stove itself, but once we did, it rather settled down.  Doing the installation is pretty simple, though do be careful because the little metal tongue that slots into the butane cylinder can be sharpish.  Once installed, you start the stove like normal.
The hose threads through an opening in the rear of the stove and screws into the gas manifold.

BTW this iteration of the stove has something it's needed:  a thermocouple to keep gas from flowing if there's no flame.  If you're used to the older ones, it might take a moment to accustom yourself to holding the starter on for a ten count before releasing (otherwise known as "why isn't this burning?") in order to keep the gas flowing.

We had a couple of hesitations regarding the propane unit.  Propane is less energy dense than butane, so we thought it might burn appreciably cooler.  Plus the hose and bottle takes up counterspace that we didn't really want to lose.  Fortunately, these proved needless worries.  The stove worked fine from the get-go, happily cooking meals and roasting coffee (which is a moderately long and high temp process) without complaint.  As the mornings are starting to get cool here (and the propane is far less temperature sensitive than the butane) it was nice to have a stove up at full power for morning coffee.  Plus, of course, the 16.7oz bottles last longer.

Fortunately, our oven fits perfectly as well.
I'm pretty confident, having used their nearly identical stove for years, that the Gas One Dual Fuel will work just fine.  What we've yet to determine is if the Propane, which is somewhat easier to find locally (though a bear if you want them shipped) is more economical or easier to deal with than the butane, with which we've had few problems. One nice thing is that this little stove does seem to have the capability to be tied into a larger, refillable bottle. We'll do a follow up review after we've had a month or so experience with the thing.  Also as we move into cooler weather, we'll also have our woodstove as a cooking source, and, of course, we've still got our kero stove as backup.  We'll see.

Now the rains have stopped for a bit, we're enjoying the clear, cool, beautiful weather of early fall here on the Middle River  It's some of the best boating and outside time of the year.  Get out there and enjoy.

Hey, Morgainne has new stuff over at Life, Art, Water  and I've book sales going on on Kindle and at Wild Shore Press.  Check em out, if you'd be so kind.

More Later, enjoy the Fall


Monday, October 3, 2016

. . . .and yet MORE Winter Prep

Pulled and painted the woodstove yesterday and stripped and reseated all the tile thereunder.
It looks like giving this thing a coat of high heat paint is gonna be a yearly thing.
Now that we're apparently done with our week of pounding rain (at least, until the current hurricane comes up the coast) we're pushing to get the last few necessary things done before the cool sets in.  I've got some more floatation to put under the bow, and there are two very small leaks where the new side membrane is overlapped by the roof membrane I need to address.  We're thinking that our revisions will make for a more comfortable winter, and, given the woodstove, a less expensive one.
Will have a review of our new dual-fuel cooktop shortly.
So, today we'll finish tidying up the stove area, putting in some trim and reseating the chimney, give the new float some antifouling paint and bail out the puddleduck, and then take some time to enjoy the finally nice fall weather.

You as well.  Get out there and appreciate.  Good for the soul.

Hey, new stuff at Life, Art, Water.  Check it out.


Friday, September 16, 2016

More Winter Prep and Window Stuff

So this week, with weather, tides, and wind finally cooperating, we finished redoing the membrane down our starboard side.
The new membrane, lapped under the roof membrane, hanging out wrinkles.
This one was a bit more complicated as we wanted to do some window work as well.  In the Galley area, we had this big tuftex (corrugated greenhouse material) window along the whole Starboard side.  It let in lots of light--a bit too much in fact in the mornings--and was kind of irritating since  you can't really see out of it.  So we decided to bite the bullet and do a replacement.
Taking the tuftex out left a really huge opening. . .like, the whole wall.
So after removing the window and stapling the new membrane in place on the outside, we began to do a fill in of the window space, using some exterior siding panels and adding another 3/4" of insulation.  The black stuff below is the backside of the membrane.
We slotted siding in in place of the window.

In the place of the huge window, we're adding two portholes, mostly made from found objects--a couple of old vent gratings and some lexan we had-- and painted hammered copper to give it kind of a steampunky look.
The light is now a bit more controllable, plus we can actually SEE through them.
Then of course we had to do the battening on the exterior.   You want a great core exercise?  Try working over your head from a small boat on ANOTHER small, moving boat.  Trust me. . . .
Battening going in...Yeah, I'm gonna feel this tomorrow.
So inside we added a little decorative shelf (also hammered copper) and some trim molding.  I think it's a nice addition, and will make us quite a bit warmer this winter.
Oh, this worked out nicely.
So now I've got to reset the tile beneath the woodstove and do a bit of additions to our floatation and we'll be set.

Hey, some more book sales at Wildshore Press, check em out.

More shortly.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Beginning Winter Prep

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, it's just barely September, but trust me, December is a lousy time to be working on a boat.  So, baring that in mind, we've been doing some of the things we've had in mind for a while.  We've replaced part of the forward deck with planking instead of the plywood (which was becoming, um. . .penetrable. . ).  And today we rebuilt one of the fore interior walls on the Starboard side.
New siding, new insulation, new foil layer. . .

So with more insulation and a stouter wall on the north side, hopefully this will help our. . .um. . . winter experience.  Next up, replacing the tufftex window on the starboard side and finishing the outer membrane.

New wall suitable for shelving and artwork.
Magellan, as usual, prefers to just stay on the Web.
I have a vast web empire which I monitor psychically....rather like Edgar Cayce.

Please stand back, the energy discharge can damage cell phones. . . . 

More stuff tomorrow.  Hey, new site on self sufficiency at, also new things over at Life, Art, Water, and new deals on our books at  Check em out.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Livaboards and the Health of the Bay

Healthy plants make for healthy water, though they can be a pain on your prop.
Living here, year in and year out, right ON the water, you see it all. Perhaps more than any group of people, we who live on our vessels see every change, however minute, to the bay and it's tributaries. We wake to the birds along the banks. We hear the frogs in spring (or lack thereof), the slap of fish against our hulls, and the racket that the geese make when they land. We saw first hand the huge die-off last November when warm temperatures and chemicals in the runoff conspired to create an algae bloom that whiped out every fish, crustacian, and most of the plants, paving the suddenly clear bottom with dead fish and sending our seabirds elsewhere. We witnessed the huge effort of the country and civic organizations as they cleaned the shoreline along Hawthorn of human detritus. We are bellweathers. We can report it all.
This little guy actually got sucked up by our galley sink pump.  He's quite lively.

This summer I'm pleased to say the report is pretty good. The health of the Chesapeake Bay and it's tributaries seem to be in better shape than I've seen them in years. Efforts to curb runoff into the waters (including the much-derieded “rain tax”) along with a healthy growth of waterplants have led to some of the best water quality we've seen here in Middle River. Schools of fish are back in droves (This was especially pointed out to me when we literally pumped a pencil eel into our galley sink one morning). Our more enthusiastic slip mates are leaving early in the mornings and coming back with baskets laiden with large, healthy looking crab.
The crabs are back in force this year.
The birds are having a great time. Ospreys plunge into the river here and then struggle up carrying what is either some really large fish or a lost Japanese MiniSub, we're not sure. The potted rosemary on our finger peir has been host this summer to three—count em—three clutches of duck eggs, for a grand total of 23 ducklings for the season. Whatever we and nature are doing, it's working.
Why, WHY!?, do the ducks love our rosemary pot as a nesting site?

That's not to say that human stupidity and churlishness don't complicate matters. Clowns in powerboats still occassionally tear through our 6Kt zone throwing 3 foot wakes, battering boats and sea grasses, and I wish I could find whoever filleted three gigantic rockfish the other day only to toss the huge remaining carcasses back into the water in which the marina kids swim (smooth move, numbnuts). We're becoming more aware, though, and that pleases me. Folks are being more careful about their trash and cigarette butts, people are actually making an effort to fish plastic bags and bottles out of the waters if they float by, and, in general, policing of runoff and chemicals and black water systems is improving daily.

We're livaboards. We see this stuff. You're doing better. Keep it up. 


New stuff over at Life, Art, Water and more book promotions over at Wild Shore Press, check em out.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Transportation Crisis Averted

So today we took the delightful (caution, Irony alert) 24 Bus down to look at bicycles and wound up riding two of em the 5 miles back to the Marina.

Being Green is ever so stylish
 So we are now the proud owners of two new beach cruisers, with no gears (it's flat here) and fat tires (because the roads here sucketh), which puts pretty  much anywhere we need to go (closer than train transit) within range.  Now we just have to clean out our poor deceased car and get it hauled away.

And then, back to boat stuff, we promise, but it's all part of living aboard.

Lots of new stuff over at Life, Art, Water.  Check it out.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hoofin' It

Okay, so if you're wondering why we've had yet another pause in the blog over the last few days, we had a bit of an automotive disaster.  While picking up a friend from work--one of our fellow livaboards--we turned a corner and the entire front suspension of our beloved and much abused little three-cylinder Metro simply, um, collapsed.

Our little Metro in happier days, next to the frame for "Floating Empire"
Well, in Little Red's defense, she did have going on a quarter of a million miles on her, and on the original clutch I might add.  Now THAT'S construction.  Ultimately it was rust from road salt that did her in.  Snif.

So now we're dealing with a quandary. The vehicle is apparently not repairable with any reasonable amount of money and effort. We had discussed early in this blog exploring bike routes with the thought that we might go carless (you can check out that entry here). Do we buy bikes an follow through on it?  Do we start using more of the available mass transit?  Do we find another functional junker to buy? 

Magellan just finds all these considerations exhausting.
So that's been occupying our boat time of late.  We hope to have it all sorted out by week's end, proceed with the membrane repairs to the Starboard side, and go on with our lives.

Sigh.  Will miss the little car, but engines are always a hassle.

More later