Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Donkey, the carrot, and the stick.

I think everyone knows the analogy of the carrot and the stick. It seems like I’ve been chasing carrots myself for a long time now and they’ve always been tied to a stick that was wielded by someone other than myself. Something happened when I turned down the offer of promotion at work. It really set in that I’ve got my own stick now and it’s called a mast. It is that thing the sails attach to allowing my boat to harness the wind. I just gave myself a big carrot too and now I am grinning like a little kid.

For those that have been reading long enough you’ll remember that I got ordained online several months back. Well, it wasn’t just a joke as I am scheduled to marry, performing the ceremony as a reverand, two really good friends on mine in late March 2009 in Louisiana. With a little luck I should be in Panama by then and I just booked a flight from Panama City, Panama to Springfield, Missouri USA, round trip mind you. I don’t want to tempt fate by making my plans too firm, but I think it is a good sign of my mindset and determination to start this voyage in November.
The blogs have been slow lately as I was called out to Philadelphia for a company meeting. People keep asking me if I’ve totally detached yet, but I haven’t really even come close. It’s my last quarter to close some business that I’ve been working on for over a year. Plus, if I don’t get the deals closed now I’ll never get paid for the effort to date. It would be nice to have a little money to walk away with.

After my meeting in Philly wrapped up on Thursday I hopped a train down to Washington, D.C., the home of SOS Children’s Villages USA. I got a chance to sit down with Heather Paul - CEO, Mark Neidig - Chief Development Officer, and Lisa Vogt the Director of Internet Marketing. It was a great chance to meet their team in person and establish the relationship I hope will carry us around the world. I’ve got high hopes for what we will be able to accomplish for their cause.

No real boat progress to report as I barely had 36 hours at home this weekend before I have to head back to the west coast for work. Go sailing.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Dancing with Hurricanes

After a few hours in the office this morning I’ll be heading to the airport for a weeks work in Philadelphia. Before I go, I’ll be doubling all my dock lines and centering the boat in the slip.
Hurricane season is no joke down here for the boaters. I am lucky in that I live in the best hurricane hole on the Texas Gulf Coast, but that doesn’t mean I can afford to get lazy about boat prep. As a standard, every time I leave for more than a day, I fill the water tank, charge the batteries to full, shut down everything but the bilge pumps, add additional dock lines including extra spring lines, and center the boat in the slip giving it as much room to move and dance as possible.

Dolly is on the way towards South Texas, but these forecasts have a habit of changing. If you want to keep a close eye on the storms down here check out the National Hurricane Center. The do a great job of tracking these lows from their earliest formation out in the Atlantic or sometimes even over Africa. Have a good week and go sailing.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where to begin?

For starters, I withdrew from consideration for a promotion at work. I’ve always been driven to climb the corporate ladder and this marks a major shift in the path I am on. The surreal part is trying to explain that I withdrew from consideration and was not passed over. Simply put, I don’t think people believe me. Such an action is outside the character my colleagues have come to know. It doesn’t help that I am not yet sharing my real reasons for withdrawing. I’ve been explaining that, “I am holding out for a management position” or “I am not ready to commit to an ill defined, new position for two years”, none of which ring quite true.

The other side of the story is that the position had come down to a heads up competition between me and a colleague I have a great deal of respect for. I could not in good conscious compete for a job, possibly pushing her out of hers, knowing I am leaving soon. I couldn’t think of any way to cut it where that could have been considered anything but a vile move. That’s not how I want to make an exit.

I am also coming off of two weeks of boat work. Actually, the work days were punctuated by weekend sailing trips. It felt really good to get the old girl back on the water. Three weeks ago was the first time I’ve left the dock since I sailed to South Padre. That was just over six months. I made a lot of progress, but far short of what I wanted to get done.

A few big projects included installing the new chartplotter and removing the old gps, flushing and rebuilding the old watermaker, replacing the secondary anchor line, replacing the boom topping lift and its blocks, pulling out 20 years of wiring that was no longer in use, repairing the air conditioner, installing the new shower bilge pump, changing the engine oil and filters, and a few other miscellaneous items. It was good progress, but there is so much more to do.

As a start, I just put in orders for quite a bit of new equipment. I bought an Elliott six man Solas A canister life raft I’ll deck mount, new stainless steel cowl vents for the main cabin, a hand held gps mount for the nav station, new blinds for the fixed ports, and Kiwi Grip so I can redo the non-skid surface of the decks. I am really racing the countdown clock. I am feeling the pressure to get it done like I’ve never felt pressure for any other project. I am pushing to get the decks done and re-caulk all of the deck fittings and chain plates. I need to get this boat water tight.

On a similar, but different note, I think I am going to drop about 1K for a little portable Honda 2000 watt generator. I can set this on the deck at anchor and use it to power the battery charger and refrigerator and freezer. The only other option would be to run the engine for two hours a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. I am scared of my engine with ~9000 hours on it. That’s a lot of hours for original equipment. I think Rusty the Westerbeke can make it, but I don’t want to ask him to push the boat and keep my food cold. I can’t afford a repower.

There are about 55 projects on the To Do list and despite knocking them off as quickly as possible it is growing, not shrinking. I have to find a way to fly my storm jib. I have to redo the opening ports. I need safety netting along the lifelines. As for the rest……I’ll just do the best I can and sort it on the way.

I am finally going to D.C. to meet the people at SOS Children’s Villages USA. It’s important to me to meet people in person. Especially considering how much this organization is shaping the course and content of my voyage.

The new website isn’t up yet. It’s coming along, but taking far longer than I’d hoped. If there is anyone reading this good at slinging code who can help me set up an embedded google map and blog, both of which must be capable of being updated via basic text email or SMS/Text to an email address, I could sure use your help.

Reading back through this I realize I went on quite a ramble. I think writing helps me solidify my thoughts. I am tired and a little overwhelmed and it is showing. Despite it all, I am much more excited and thrilled to be seeing it come together than anything else.

I am going to try and sail around the world. I am leaving in November.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Proudly Introducing Our First Major Sponsor – Emily Nash Photography

I first met Emily Nash when she was doing corporate photo shoots in Albuquerque, NM. The University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Business hired Emily for all of their shoots, including my EMBA Graduation.

The first thing I noticed about this lady was how much fun she was having with what she was doing. The second thing was that she was not taking your typically boring graduation/business shots. Emily built a business combining an amazingly creative eye, a natural talent for working with people, and an incredibly sharp business mind into custom photo shoots that yield unapologetically bold and unique images.

Showing no fear, Emily agreed to come to Kemah from Austin, where she now resides, and join me for a three day cruise. The resulting images went way past my highest of expectations. I think she really captured the feel of what Sailing for SOS is trying to accomplish. Em, I am forever indebted.

If you have photographic work to do and want to work with the best in the business, contact Emily Nash Photography.

Emily Nash

Monday, July 07, 2008

Galveston kids eat anything.

Yeah, so we did offer the kid 20 bucks to eat the fish. I think he would have done it anyway. Spent the weekend sailing around with the photograher for the new site. Great shots, I'll post a few images shortly. In the mean time, enjoy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It's confirmed.......I am a nerd.

Want to know how much of a geek I am? Here is what I’ve been doing on a Wednesday night while on vacation. So I want to swap all my lights out to LED so I can take it as easy as possible on the batteries. It’s an easy formula, Amps = Watts/Volts. My battery bank is around 530 Amps. My battery voltage is 12 volt and is relatively constant. So, if you take your average 20 watt halogen light it burns 1.67 amps/hour. I also had a few 50w bulbs that burn 4.17 amps/hour. With a total of 7 of these fixtures this type of amperage draw really adds up.

Your average LED bulb will run around 1 – 5 watts or the equivalent of ~.3 amps/hour. That’s a big savings. The only problem is finding a good LED light that puts out anything even approaching the output of a 20w or 50w bulb. For a long time I didn’t think they existed. After a few bum LED bulbs I stumbled onto a small business run by a cruiser who specialized in these bulbs. He sent me a few to play with, actually I bought them to play with, and the results are below. I am not naming the company because there is one bulb in particular I’d like to use all over my boat. Sponsorship anyone?

Ok, so to get some thing approaching an unbiased, uncorrupted, analytical result I used my new camera. I plugged in a standard 20w bulb in one of my fixtures and found the settings that would yield the best possible picture. Now admittedly, this is somewhat biased because I chose to use the 20w as the control, but hey, I had to start somewhere. Anyway, after a few test shots I ended up with an f-stop of 16, 8 second shutter time, and ISO 800. That might mean something to you photogs. For the rest of us it just means I didn’t change the camera settings for any of the following pics.

This is the control with the 20w.

Here is a picture of the 50w. Somewhat brighter, but hardly worth it for the extra 2.5 amps/hour. Not to mention the fixture actually started smoking since it hadn’t had the 50w bulb in it before. These things will melt your face off.

Now the real telling photo. I bought this little gem, an 18 LED cluster, off of ebay and got two for $10. They were supposed to be equivalent to a 20w bulb, but as you can tell, it’s hardly visible at all. Junk.

I am impressed with this bulb. It has nine of the Surface Mounted (SMD) LED lights and is still a warm yellow, but not so much as some others. It’s not the same as the 20w, but for 2 watts or 0.17 amps/hour it’s a real winner. I’ll just plug two of them in.

Finally, I had high hopes for this bulb, but it let me down. It is a 33 LED cluster, but it is so yellow that the light just seems dirty. It was also the most expensive bulb in the lot at ~$50 USD. The other draw back is that it is so heavy it works itself out of the fixture and falls if not very well secured. Fortunately this one never hit the ground.

So from left to right you have the 50w Xenon, 20w Xenon, 18 LED cluster, 9 SMD LED cluster, and the 33 LED cluster. Anyone else want to buy the 9 SMD LED cluster? Let me get my sponsorship request letter back to the business owner and see what we can do. They’ve been extremely patient with all my question and have shipped the orders right out. Good people to work with. I’ll keep you posted.

Tomorrow’s TO DO List

Almost my entire day today went to working for Thermo. It’s OK since I still need to pay for everything, but I feel really behind on my projects for this week. I just laid out my plan for tomorrow and probably a good deal of Friday. Here it is: Pump Out and flush the head lines, change engine oil and starboard racor fuel filter, pull two more loose sets of wires running aft on one side and to the engine on the other, pull the anchor and wash off the mud, install the new secondary anchor rode and line, rebed the cockpit scuppers, install the new shower bilge pump, run up the mast and fix the new boom topping lift, run the new reefing lines, and clean out and rebuild the old PUR Powersurvivor 35 Water Maker. I’ll be renaming her Jargo soon.