Sunday, February 24, 2008

Planning ahead: Pork Chunks!

All is well, but I've been pulled back into my day job in order to get this trip paid for. I've still managed to answer a few questions surfing the web even if I am not physically working on the boat. One question was what kind of canned meats and cheeses were available in the U.S. for provisioning. I found a site called and made a small purchase. I can't wait to see how my pork chunks cook up. mmmmm. I couldn't resist and cracked right into one can of Kraft's pasteurized process cheddar cheese spread. This stuff is exactly what comes in the individual singles packs. Not bad, but I wouldn't want to live on it. It does make a mean grilled cheese sandwich.

Other than ordering chunked meat, I've been pulling together some charts showing the Central American Coast and three different cruising guides that cover my course from South Padre Island, TX all the way down and through the Panama Canal. I am having a hard time balancing how many stops I want to make along this trip. I'd love to hit every little port so I can see more of each country, but on the other hand picking a few ports will let me stay at each longer really getting to know them. I think I am already leaning towards the latter option. I did a whirl wind backpacking tour of Western Europe as far east as Prague when I was just out of college. It was a great trip, but it was too much to fit into 2 months. I think I'd rather get to know the people and places I visit more deeply than is possible with rapid fire visits down the coast. Yo necessito estudiar mi espaniol. Adios!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Vote!!!

I don't know why these are coming out orange. The logos will be the same blue used in the logos below. Just voting on the style for now. Please cast your vote to the Left!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Struck by lightening.

No, not the boat. Me. That is the closest possible way I can describe the feeling I’ve had the last two weeks. I think it started with getting motivated to start working on the boat. I knocked out the macerator pump, that’s the one that pumps the sewage off the boat. Nasty, nasty job, but I got it done after finding several leaks that had to be fixed. Unfortunately, I figured out that the holding tank leaks so I need a new 15 gallon bladder tank to replace the old one. I also got the lines replaced for my main sheet, mizzen sheet, and running back stays.

I called the guys over at Blue Water to help me with the starter which has been malfunctioning occasionally since I bought the boat. We got the old starter pulled, rebuilt, and reinstalled along with a new solenoid. In the most frightening moment of my short boating career, I pushed the button to test the install and heard nothing but a click. Knowing something wasn’t right I dropped down below to have a look and realized I couldn’t see being engulfed in smoke. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and opened the engine compartment expecting to see flames, but there were none. In fact, aside from the smoke all seemed OK.

Apparently, new starters need a lot of amps to turn over the first time. The bad news was my older wiring had such a large voltage drop due to corrosion that the starter didn’t get full power when I hit the ignition button. What did happen was a total meltdown of the starting wire that runs from the solenoid to the starter, the battery selector switch, and my engine temp and oil gauges. Oh well, better at the dock then at sea. Now at least I know I’ve replaced the weakest link in the starting circuit.

Amazingly, the feeling I’ve likened to being hit by lightening didn’t come from my close call with an electrical fire, but with the interaction I’ve had with several people over dinner last weekend. I finally got a chance to sit down with my web designer and review his draft logos for the sight. I was impressed. I’ve copied three of them in below and would love some feedback. These are being revised based on some input from me and others so the final draft should be coming soon. Knowing I don’t have any creative talent myself I invited the crew of Transcend from the South Padre trip and one of their friends. What started out as a discussion about which logo looked the best turned into a full on brain storm about how to make this trip happen and make the absolute most of it. To Jesselyn, Sharron, Joe, Lilly, Steven, and Jackie, thanks. Your enthusiasm means more than you know.

So, coming off that dinner/logo meeting I’ve started filling out the paper work to incorporate my own 503c non-profit allowing readers to purchase shirts and such to support both SOS and myself. It’s a way people can give a fully tax deductible donation that keeps me sailing and gives directly to SOS. It’s going to be a pretty cool logo. I’ve also drafted my first press release. My feeble mind was just planning on sending the release to the sailing mags and the non-profit mags, but the group is going to help me get this out all over the place. Sponsorship for the trip is starting to look like it might actually be a possibility. Timing on the first media blitz is going to be pretty crucial. I don’t want to get fired before I am actually ready to go. Then again, that might make for an even more interesting story.

The end result of all this activity is that the reality of this project is sinking in. It still seems surreal that I’d quit my job and try to sail around the world to help orphans. Crazy huh? I am really starting to love the work I am doing to get ready for this trip. Somehow, it’s taking on a life of its own. I don’t really feel like I am pushing anymore, but that I am being pulled to it. There is lot’s to do, but it’s getting easier, not harder.

I am going sailing.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wow, that smells like…….!

Big couple of days this week. I haven’t been on the road due to a cancelled business trip so it has felt like found time and I’ve taken advantage. I went to talk to the guys at Blue Water and realized I could spend a week on this or have them over for an hour and a half and have it done. Needless to say, they come over the next day and took the old starter off the boat. I am having it rebuilt for $200 and a rusty spare rebuilt for $280 so I should have starters covered. They’ll be back and installed with the new solenoid by the 15th.

I also got motivated and spliced in my new main sheet, ordered the hardware for a new mizzen sheet setup, and tackle for both of my running back stays. The hardware will be here Friday and I’ve already got the line ready to splice in. I also started to tackle a job I’ve been dreading. The fear of a 15 year old macerator pump and what may lie inside is paralyzing. Ok, I know I don’t always slow down to explain all the sailing lingo, but this one is worth it. A macerator pump has two purposes. On fishing boats they use them to drain live bait wells of anything that may still be in them. They are really good at it because the little blades inside chop everything up and make it pump out the hoses nice and easy. Fish and all. The second use is to empty the holding tanks on pleasure boats like Romance. Yep, septic.

So, I donned a pair of fashionable latex gloves and started wrenching the old pump out of the boat. Guess what came out with it? You got it. Goo. Lots of very old, very smelly, gut wrenching, vomit on the spot, poop. I almost had to toss the whole damn sailing thing out the window. However, fortified by a cerveza, I rushed back into the head and wrapped the offending rags and pump in plastic trash bags and got it off the boat. This maneuver was followed by a quick epoxy job to shore up the mounting plate for the new pump and in it will go, tomorrow.

While that all dries I’ve dropped a couple of oil absorbers down into the bilge to try and mop up what amounts to way too much oil. I’ve been checking out a product called BioSok that is supposed to use bacteria to breakdown the hydrocarbons into non toxic compounds. I am a science geek. This stuff excites me and I can’t wait to try it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Feeling pretty good.

It’s amazing what a couple of days of sunny, warm weather do for my motivation. The boat and I both smell like diesel again and I like it. On the way home from Padre I had a filter clog and had to switch over to the second Racor. This is a great redundancy that saves a lot of time. I dug in today to replace both filters, but of course my starter solenoid is finally out for good which means I can’t bleed the system. I’ll give the old girl something, she didn’t leave me stranded out there in the Gulf. The only break downs I’ve had all occurred at the dock. Anyways, I swapped out both filters and learned a little more about my fuel system. It’s still dirty so I need to keep lots and lots of filters on board. I’ve also got an electric pump to help bleed the system, but only up to the injectors as I need the starter to bleed past the high pressure fuel pump. I’ll head to Blue Water tomorrow to order a new solenoid.

I can really feel the clock ticking. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the expanse of a year in front of me and realized how quickly it would all pass.

The logo for the new website should be done next week and an amateur photographer is going to come by the week after to take some pics of the dog and I on the boat. I’ll send them into Latitudes and Attitudes and hopefully get the site launched by March. I am expecting things to go into high gear as the weather warms up and am getting my game plan in place.