Saturday, July 29, 2017

We apologise for the inconvenience. . . .

We've a ton of photos and new posts on the current work on "Tesla's Revenge", but our lovely little marina is having some SERIOUS bandwidth problems of late, which is making  uploading just about impossible.  They're working on it, and should have it functional by the end of the weekend, but if not, I'll drag the laptop over to a starbucks and get some of this stuff here on the blog.  Stay tuned.  Lotsa stuff coming as soon as we can.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Making a Simple, snap-on Screen

Screening in hatches, ports, companionways, and the like on vessels and tiny homes can be a pain. The surfaces are often uneven, the openings far from square, and, in general, trying to fabricate something like a screen that will stay in place and keep out the native insect life can be as much of a pain as.  .well. . .as the native insect life.

Window screens for the original Floating Empire were never satisfactory, as they involved lots of staples and not a lot of finesse.
We've found that a relatively simple expedient can be created, however, just through the use of screw-in snaps.

These simple screw in snap kits contain all the tools you need, save a hammer.
The method is really simple.  Cut your screening to fit and trim the edges with a stout tape or cloth.  We used Gorilla gaffer's tape.  Set your female snaps per the package instructions into the tape rim, then mark where the snaps will fall on the surface of the window opening and screw in the male part of the snap there.

It makes for a clean, easily removable, bug free screening system.
Since the whole system is non-rigid, it will easily adapt to virtually any opening.  Have a mind:  if drilling the snaps into fiberglass, a pilot hole is recommended as the screws can bind and snap off.

Anyway, just wanted to pass this along.  We've now got a screened main forward hatch and a LOT less mosquito intrusion.

More shortly


Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Saga of the Great Unmasting

So if you've followed this latest project of ours, you'll know that Tesla's Revenge, formerly a Cal 2-29 sailboat, had some issues that prevented her from being a . . .well. . .sailboat.  The supports that spread the force from the deck-stepped mast to the keel were shot, literally rusted to bits the size of coins, and that was, of course, one of the reasons we got her cheap.

Having re-assembled the interior, rewired stuff out the wazoo, and begun serious work on our wheelhouse, it was time to get rid of said troublesome mast in order to proceed with our conversion of the vessel into an electric cruiser.  Unfortunately, the marina where we're berthed, lovely as it is, lacks a crane to do this, and the nearest boatyard that can handle unstepping the mast is some miles down Middle River and up Frog Morter Creek, and, lacking either sails or a motor, getting over there was somewhat problematic.  But the boat DOES have an outboard mount, and, with an outboard borrowed from the former owner, we decided we could make the trip to Maryland Marina under our own power.

The Captain at his helm, mug of Iced Tea at the ready.  Note how hopeful he seems.
The day started auspiciously, with virtually no wind.  The borrowed motor started up instantly.  We did a wonderfully graceful job of getting out of the slip and into the center of Middle River.  All in all, quite the happy start.  I'd never been by water to Maryland Marina before (we did go to check it out by car just to be able to recognize the place) but I had the Navonics app on my smartphone, a functioning radio, maps on our computers. . . .the cat even seemed calm with his home suddenly deciding to move.  It was all good.

Okay, full disclosure here:  I have this paranoid distrust of internal combustion engines of any kind.  The guys at the marina all seem to love tinkering with them, listening to them, messing with them, talking about them. . . me, I seem to have a native antipathy to them.  I always assume they're going to fail, usually when I least expect it.  One of the effects of this paranoia is that I spend the ENTIRE TIME a motor is running listening for every hiccough, every burp and burble, convinced that something dire is about to happen.

But happily, nerve wrackingly, it didn't.

We even managed to find the Marina with only a minimum of angst.  All in all, the trip over failed to suck.  The Cal's huge rudder made steering a breeze, and the boat proved responsive and easy to manage.

Okay, to the mast.
The mast is a MOOSE.  You can also see some of our gonzo cribbing.
 The mast on this thing is a beast, the Cal being designed for offshore racing.  It's big and it's thick and it's long and the idea we had was to pull the thing and lay it across the new wheelhouse, along with a tripod of cribbing at the bow, then to motor back to Middle River Landing and remove the thing with the marina's sling.

As you can see, this thing is NOT short.
The whole process is kind of daunting.  The Marina made it look easy.

The crane was on it's own truck, and our beloved cat Magellan was totally freaked out by it, by the motor noise, by being off the boat (albeit with a leash) in a strange place.  I don't blame him.  Staring straight up at the mast, you really don't get a sense of how LONG the thing really is.  When they lowered it onto our cribbing, some of which nearly skittered off the deck during the loading process.  We lashed it on to the lifeline stands with some heavy line and managed to get it seated and tied down.

Tied down and mercifully back at our slip.
Of course, the entire way back, every creak and groan of the cribbing and the wheelhouse frame, every wave we hit, every burble of the motor, made me ABSOLUTELY SURE that with the next idiot powerboater's wake we would see the mast crashing into the water, dragging all our woodwork with it, COMPLETELY POSITIVE the motor was going to die any moment, leaving us stranded and void of course in the midst of the mixing bowl that is the lower Middle River.  AAAAAHHHH!   AAAAAHHHH!    AAAAAHHHHH!

It was not restful.

OMFG what an ordeal. 
We arrived back home, intact but stressed to the max and utterly exhausted (cat included).  The next day we pulled the mast off and set it on the hard using the Marina's boat sling.  That, at least, went smoothly.

But it's done.  Now we have a host of wiring and solar panels and electronics to deal with, but THAT, at least, I'm at ease with.

Not doing this again anytime soon, though.....sheesh.

Enjoy the summer.  We hope to be mobile and have lots new and happier stories for you by month's end.

This is a gin and tonic and I've earned it, so there.



Slow Progress, but lots more shortly

Apologies for not having posted a great deal lately.  Rest assured we're making progress and taking pictures, but a combination of an insane work schedule and bandwidth issues has made adding things to the blog difficult.  That's all about to change, so please bear with us.

In the recent days we've finished the structure for our wheelhouse, taken the boat on it's first trip, and gotten the mast removed.  Pix to come momentarily.

In the middle of that, our POS hand pump in the galley decided to stop working. . .then to start working. . .then to stop working again. 

I guess this thing was cheap for a reason, hunh?
So of course, I ordered a replacement, this time a Whale galley pump with far better reviews, and set about the knuckle banging task of getting the old one out.   This was complicated by the fact that the old pump required a much larger hole (which had to be filled) and the fact that I'd installed the old pump before putting in the sink, meaning I had to reach under and behind the sink and to the new installation by braille.

The new Whale galley pump.  You can see the repaired opening to the right, which I now have to tidy up.
But it's done.  The Whale galley pump is smooth, and twice as fast as the old one (it works on both stroke directions).  We're quite happy with it and I recommend it highly.

So stay tuned.  I'll be posting our first outing and the great mast removal saga shortly.

Happy summer.