Sunday, June 29, 2014

Maiden Voyage

We determined to get up at the crack of dawn so as to have the mild winds predicted and to get a jump on the pleasure boaters.  This was somewhat complicated by the fact that on this of all nights the Yacht Club across the way decided to host a live band, a lot of drunks, and in the process of the evening I managed to fry my hand with steam......
Yes, these are blisters from 2nd degree burns....Don't ask....

All of which made for a pretty sleepless night. Added to that, most of the folks we ran into at the marina had spent their time telling us everything that could go wrong:  we didn't dare take the boat out in any wind, we couldn't possibly have enough battery, we didn't have enough power (they were right about that one), the Middle River was a "mixer bowl" of wakes on the weekend........but still:

So here is what Sue Creek and the Baltimore Boat Center looks like about 5:30 AM when we set out.

 Only a few fishermen out this time of the AM.  We had carefully consulted the wind charts to make sure the calm would be as...well...calm as it could be.  So we cranked it out of the sack in near darkness, untangled our lines, and cast off on the Floating Empire's maiden voyage.
 Pretty flat, hunh?  The flat part stopped when we exited Sue Creek and entered the main channel of Middle River, as did the lack of wind.
 This was about the time that we discovered that our total of 85 pounds of motor thrust was NOT going to be enough.  We found ourselves burning way too much battery power, just trying to keep from going broadside to the wind.  Our massive speed averaged something like .7 knots.  No, you read that right, 0.7.

 Still, the day was beautiful, not a horrible amount of boat traffic (we had been warned about all the wakes).  Most of the markers had been transformed into Osprey nests.  They tolerated us with a practiced disdain.

 No, it really wasn't this rough, just a crooked shot.

Mungo, stressed to the max.

The problem was, our thruster motor ran out of battery early on.  I did some creative wiring and spliced it into our main 12V feeds to the instruments, but that only gave us partial power.  

 Creative though, no?
 So Morgainne wound up on the stern, manually manipulating the thruster this is not a sexual reference....with me on the bow shouting directions and trying to influence our course with about a quarter the bow thruster strength we needed.  It was wildly stressful.  I kept expecting any minute to give out of power and have to drop anchor and wait for the panels to charge us.  As it was, we finished with plenty of power, just not enough of it getting to the motors to do what we needed to do.

 Six hours later and utterly exhausted, we arrived in Middle River Landing and were greeted with a bunch of friendly folks who helped us tie up, helped me calm down, and even gave me a lift to get our car, an embarrassing 5 minutes away.

So here we are at our pretty new home.  It's really nice here.  More later as soon as I get this phone tethering thing worked out a bit better, but we're fine and happy.

More shortly, along with a list of the things we've learned on this project so far.


Testing Testing and our new home

Hi Everybody,
We'll we're here in our new home after a 6 hour trip at a stately .7 knots.  More on this shortly.  Just wanted everyone to know we made it.

I'm having some tethering issues with our new internet setup and will be posting pix and video later in the day, so please stay tuned.


Friday, June 27, 2014


Burned my hand tonight, so this will be a short post.  Tomorrow AM is essentially our maiden voyage.  Will Be back in the evening with pix and video and the full saga.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

walls and fires and prepping for the move

Did a lot of stuff today we'd been meaning to clean up to prep for our move to Middle River Landing tomorrow(though if the wind follows forecasts we may wait until early saturday AM instead).  Got the Lowrance GPS/Charplotter/depthfinder thing installed and working....

Nice little if I can just figure out how it unclips from it's base......yeesh.

We also got more of the internal walls installed around the head and bath area.  As per our previous post, these are just matchstick blinds, framed, stapled, and screwed into place.

I really like the look, and it makes for some very pleasant spaces on the boat.

......then we took a siesta.  I know, not thrilling, but this is one of the very first days aboard that weren't absolutely packed with "must do" stuff.  We got up when we wanted, did a bit of work, went shopping, took a nap, made dinner.  All in all much closer to the life we want.

Today we also started messing about with the wood gasifier stove I built.  I'll do a more detailed piece on this later, but we made water for tea for iced for the trip tomorrow.  Thing is pretty amazing.  It burns hot (7 min to boil a kettle of water) on just a couple of handfuls of....well...pretty much anything that will burn.  We were using hardwood pellets from a pellet stove.

The flames are really beautiful, and the thing burns without smoke.

After about 15 minutes of intense flame you get another 10 min or so of cooking level heat, then about another ten at a level that will keep stuff warm.  Throughout the process, you can dribble in more fuel to keep the flame going as long as you like.  I've a feeling we'll be using this a lot.

So, winds cooperating, tomorrow we move.  If not, we'll take a slow, happy day and head out early saturday AM.  Either way, we're looking forward to it.

More later


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tidying up and the Triumph of Paranoia

Lots of news over these last few days as we prep to move to our new berth.  First of all we got (finally) moved out of our old quarters and onto the boat full time....Which involved shifting a LOT of things to storage and a seemingly endless amount of stuff onto the boat.
NEVER let me acquire this much stuff again......

It is so true, you're owned by your possessions.  More on the downsizing process later.  Needless to say, we feel relieved to finally have it done.

We also began installing the internal walls that had to be left unfinished due to schlepping the flotation aboard the boat during transit.

The walls are really pretty.  They're just matchstick blinds framed out and screwed into place.   From inside the head, you can see out, but no one can see in due to the lower light level, yet they provide lots of air flow.  We'll let  you know how this works.

We did a bit of a test for the move, dropping the solar panels and snuggling our intex dinghy up against the stern for transit.  Awkward, but seems to work pretty well.

Now here comes the paranoia part.  As part of the install of the bow thruster, I thought we'd finish pumping the remaining water from the additional bow flotation cell we'd added.  We had a bit of an issue with the hose we were using before and picked up a new one today.

You may recall, we've been concerned about being down a bit at the bow, particularly on the Port side.  We blamed it on the hearth and galley set up, and spent an irrational amount of time last Monday tearing out excess weight.  So in the process of swimming up to the bow.....okay, mostly wading in mud....I tried the stability of the floats on the way up.  With about 300 pounds of weight on each, none of them would move of course.....except for #3......hmmm.....why you may ask?  It was missing its bung plug entirely.  Thing was completely flooded.  We pumped it out, were given a new plug from the nice folks at BBC, and then started looking:  #1 was down as well.  The bung appeared cross threaded.
So we pumped it out as well, reset the bung, finished pumping out the new bow float, and now we're sitting where we need to be sitting....

Except from piling all our stuff abaft the starboard beam to compensate for what we thought was excessive weight in the Galley, we're now down a bit on that side.


Fixable at least.  Here are some shots of our new, improved, and level vessel.

From now on we're checking these on a weekly basis...

Oh, here's the bow thruster going in:

We enjoyed the swim some much we took another in the afternoon just to cool off.  We've both missed swimming.  So more of that in the future.

A happier, cooler, slightly damp Morgainne.

So we finish the thruster and depthfinder installation tomorrow, make sure the batteries are up, and prep for our move in what promises to be the calm morning of Friday.

Stay tuned.


Monday, June 23, 2014

New home

Short post tonight.  We spent the day searching for a new marina with slip space for Floating Empire, and finally found a really lovely new berth for the boat at the Middle River Landing Marina in Essex.

So now we scramble to make everything ready so we can get there on friday.

Also today we tore apart our galley and the hearth to lose some weight, tearing out redundant (okay, so I'm paranoid) concrete board, tile, and mud.  Probably lost about 80 pounds or so off the galley, and we're sitting a bit more level tonight.

Also started installing the walls we'd had to leave out to make way for transporting flotation.  More on this, and pix, later.

stay tuned


Saturday, June 21, 2014

At Home on the Water

Not yet, mind you, but we're getting home I mean.

The whole downsizing thing has been an interesting experience.  Here's the studio in stagedown mode.  We had to do a fairly major amount of triage to figure out what went on the boat and what didn't.

Its little things you don't think of.  We had seeds and grains and pasta in these neat glass containers.
Once on the boat we realized just how much freaking room they took up and how heavy they were.

So into plastic bags they go, and the glass into storage or recycling.  Its amazing how brutal we're having to be in this downsize

But the boat is a gem, far more stable than I'd anticipated, utterly rainproof, and a wonderfully livable space.

Removing the paddlewheel...albeit temporarily....has had the bonus of creating an additional stern porch.  Here is Lady Morgainne and Kallisti, the evil cat, cavorting on the stern next to the new electric drive.

And me sitting in our new intex dinghy.  We went for a bit of a drive today using one of the minn kota electrics that we're using for steering.  Utterly civilized way to travel.  Sedate and silent.

Um, but the cat is still a bit freaked out.  She got out on the stern last night and couldn't figure out how to get back in.........which means I had to get up and drag her in.  Ah well, she'll get it......

 As will we all.......more shortly


Friday, June 20, 2014

Random bits

A few days aboard now, and I'm loving it.  Fresh food from local are some scapes (garlic flowers).  If you've never had em, correct that, they're wonderful sauteed or just tossed in olive oil and roasted on a grill.  The taste is somewhere between a mild onion, garlic, and shallot.  Wonderful.

We also scored some great local fingerling potatoes
the hearth isn't happening yet so we've been cooking on this little butane catering burner, which are cool little things to have.

Sadly, today we staged down the paddlewheel.  Hopefully the metals guys will help us get it back up and running promptly, but the massive torque of the winch motor kept shearing pins.  In its place, at the moment, we're using a 55 pound thrust trolling motor in the rear and a 30 pounder in the bow as a steering thruster.  Will give you a full report wednesday when we get a chance to really put it through it's paces.

 We also inflated our cool intex excursion four as a dinghy.  It'll row or take our bow thruster as an electric outboard.
here's a short tour of the boat in it's current state.  We're still installing things, activating systems, and making stuff pretty.

stay tuned.  M

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mea Culpa

Hi, and sorry, but today was just too much of a zoo to get much uploaded here on the blog.  We added another barrel to the bow to increase flotation this AM, then worked the rest of the day clearing out the apartment, which is a wreck, and trying to get the interior of the boat finished and livable.

I promise, more pix and videos shortly.

M the fatigued

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

a bit about the move to water.

Okay, so as promised, here's part one of the chronicle of our move to water.  Here's a shot of the boat interior......I couldn't put the interior walls in place because it had to be filled with the flotation which we had to take off again....grrrrr.....because with it on it was too high to transport

 So we wound up with a trailer full of barrels.

 Here's Richard with Turner Marine and his hydraulic trailer
 Seriously, I have nothing but nice things to say about these guys.  They worked their asses off, making sure our strange little boat was safe in transit.  Loading it onto the trailer from the uneven wet ground took nearly three hours.  We were exhausted by the end of it.....did I mention the occasional pouring rain?......make that exhausted, cold, and soaked.
 It was move the trailer a few inches, reposition the blocks, jack up the trailer again, move the trailer a few more inches......eek.
 Finally, though, we hit the road....

 From Westminster Md to Essex MD, about 44 miles, and one of the most nail biting rides of my life.  This is, of course, the equivalent of sitting a boat in 50 mph winds for an hour and a half,

 But we made it to Baltimore Boat Center of course we had to get it OFF the trailer.
 Which was tried using this monster fork lift....bad idea.....we broke one of the stringers in the process.

 Finally, though, we got it off the trailer and on stands.  Spent the night in the boat that evening, up on blocks as it were.
 Breakfast, our first, on the boat, albeit on dry land.  There was so much to do:
 We installed the solar panels.  In use these will come up level.
 We also had to reinstall all the flotation
 which was somewhat easier on a level surface with the boat four feet in the air.

And then install the paddlewheel and drive.

......which failed instantly when we got it in the water.  Ah well.

More tomorrow, and details for the future.  Comments appreciated