Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving thanks for clutter-free cabin...

I love working on the boat, but when we really get down to it, the mess is downright scary.

Yikes. My knee is twitching a little just looking at a picture of the clutter defiling my ship-shape home. Deep breaths. I am not a neat freak. Goosfraba.

I'll give a prayer of thanks for cleanliness and lack of clutter. Happy Thanksgiving!

Excuse me, I can't talk right now, I'm killing seaweed...

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my freshwater tank was growing seaweed. Some of you have pointed out that it was, in fact, algae. I would like to point out that it is now past tense seaweed. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I extinctified the seaweed. I killed it so dead I had to make up a new word to celebrate. Extinctified. It has a nice ring to it.

Let's back up. Dad and I made a date several weeks ago for a Saturday, all-day work-on-the-boat blowout.

My mission? To kill (I hadn't yet invented the word 'extinctify') the seaweed in the water tank and figure out why the water pressure wasn't working.

Dad's mission? To get rid of more crap on the boat and install the stove-microwave cabinet he built (post to come) and install a light switch.

Degunking the water tank turned out to be such a job that all dad got to do was install the cabinet (which I actually did) and to put a shelf up. Then he had to help me degunk.

He helped by taking pictures. And by helping me fill and empty the water tank and unclog the filter.

First, I liberally slopped bleach into my water tank and gushed it around with a cup. Then I reached in with the longest, thickest gloves I could find in Wal Mart (they were pink and some of the proceeds from the sale went to breast cancer awareness) and a scrub brush and set to work on the walls. There was black slime coating the walls in addition to frond-like seaweed floating peacefully in the water.

Then I turned the water pressure on at the switch. I heard the motor going and turned the handle on the sink -- nothing. Hm, I says to dad. Why ain't the water pressure a-pressurin'?

Turn it off, says he, and let's have a look-see at the plumbin'.

OK, so we're not that Southern. We're from Baltimore. But I thought it would jazz up the bleaching experience for you, right? No? Moving on...

There turned out to be a line headed from the tank toward the motor (of course), but we couldn't see the entry. So we bailed out about 15 gallons of water with a plastic cup.

I look troubled, don't I?

After that, we discovered the line was clear so far as we could see. My father, brilliant plumber that he is, figured there should be a filter before the pump's motor to keep gunk out of the motor. And we found it. I didn't get a picture, but it's a small clear yellow square. We had to unscrew four bolts, find the four tiny rusty nuts and clear the black gunk from the filter and put the thing back together.

Not wanting to clean the filter twice (it took the two of us probably 45 minutes to take it apart, clean it and put it back together -- it's in a very awkward spot) I set to cleaning the tank anew, using a cup to clear all the water and a sponge and many buckets of water to take out all the seaweed. Every once in a while I'd lay my head flat next to the opening and peer this way and that looking for more gunk with a flashlight. When I was satisfied the gunk was gone, I used a little more bleach. Then I pulled in the big guns.

I found this stuff in West Marine when we stopped to pick up screws. At that point, I was willing to try anything.

Not to sound like a commercial, and no, they didn't send me anything, but this Thetford cleaning duo is AMAZING. Buy some. Your water tank will love you for it.

I emptied 10 ounces of the blue stuff into the tank and filled it with water. Alarming amounts of suds started to form. I only panicked a little, I'm proud to say. After I filled the tank to 40-gallon capacity, I turned on the water pressure switch and said a little prayer.

Water came gushing out of the sink! It also came gushing out of the head sink -- the one we didn't think worked! (This praying stuff must have something to it.)

Look, water! I know this picture it bad, but I had wet hands and probably shouldn't have been touching my camera at all, but such was my thrill that I couldn't stop myself.

I had to push aside my thrill through because this project was barely begun. Once the tank was empty, we filled it again and emptied it with the sink and galley foot pump. Then we had to fill and use some of the clear stuff and empty again. Then we could fill it up a final time and add a little freshener. My father is skeptical of the freshener (of which I added two ounces) but I think it does make tank water taste better.

So there. Why don't you take out the trash, Dad? Isn't that what daddies are for?

To which he says, "Not so many pictures of Daddy on your blog. You're liable to scare people." Aww, he's just being coy.

To this I say, you can call me Allie The Seaweed Extinctifier. Today victory tastes like sweet, fresh water.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let's get this finished...

Now that Dad (aka Handyman Extraordinaire) has routed and sanded and glued my new over-sink cutting board, we need to finish the board. Clearly varnish would be bad -- no one wants to eat varnish. So to finish the cutting board, we decided the best course of action would be to mix mineral oil with beeswax. The cast of characters:

In a glass bowl, (obviously plastic would be a bad choice,) we poured out a little bit of oil and then shaved the wax into the oil using half of an old pair of scissors because we didn't want to gunk anything else up. (I actually did most of the shaving, but I photographed dad doing it).

I put the whole business in the microwave (it took a surprisingly long time to melt -- like three minutes) and stirred it up. Here is the finished solution:

With a clean rag I wiped the waxy oil onto the board and let it soak in. The colors of the wood really started to pop.

Here Dad, Madame Secretary and I are with the cutting board. Mom took the photo.

And here it is on the boat! Ahh, counter space! Check back for another post on using the board...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Give the gift of financial stability...

So in addition to being a liveaboard and a journalist, I also teach sailing. The Downtown Sailing Center is the non-profit sailing center I work with in Baltimore. It's totally awesome and you should fan it, vote for it and share it with your friends! (And because we can totally use the money. Like, for real.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The handyman maketh, the daughter sandeth...

This is my Dad. I talk about him a lot on this blog because... well... he owns the boat I live on. And because he's my father. That too. We argue a occasionally. OK, a lot. But he's pretty handy. He can plumb (do plumbing?) and wire stuff and build stuff... and I generally like to have him around. Unless we're fighting. Which we won't in this post, I promise. Really.

Dad loves wood. He certainly has a huge collection of it. And he likes to take classes about what to do with it.Sometimes this turns into really sweet stuff. Today, it turned into sweet stuff for the boat.

That thing he's holding? Yeah, it's my new cutting board. He glued end scrap pieces together (apparently this involved a lot of clamps). Today, we'll see how those scraps (Cocabolo, maple and teak) turned into a cutting board. As you can see, the left hand corner has a piece sticking out. This will never do, says my Daddy-o. Buckle your seatbelts. There's a lot of sanding involved.

First he has to sweep the bits of the last project into the dust collection system.

Before anything, he cuts off the protruding piece to make the edges smooth. And then... sanding. Hey, I told you there would be a lot of sanding, don't look at me like that.

And now wiping. It's important to get all the dust off and feel the wood carefully for rough spots.

Now we need one of these doo-hickeys because I requested rounded edges. I know, I'm a princess.

Now Dad has to install the doo-hickey into the router.

Did I mention he likes to make funny faces when he works? No? Noises too. Here's another:

My parents' dog Charlotte, a.k.a my father's secretary, is very interested in proceedings. Because, you know, there might be a liver snack hidden in the router.

The routing begins and Madame Secretary high tails it out of the room. The dust collection system is her hated enemy, cousin of the vacuum cleaner.

Ooh look, I get to help. I plugged in the dust collection system all by myself!

I even get to sand a little. (Can I please state for the record I had just woken up after a weekend of confirmation church retreat? Middle schoolers really take it out of you. Normally my eyes aren't quite so puffy, OK?)

And then Dad finished up the sanding. What can I say? He's good at it.

Next post? Finishing the product...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thirteen (things I need to fix on my boat) Thursday...

OK, so I see the Thursday Thirteen meme all over the blogosphere and now, for your reading pleasure are The Thirteen Things That Need Eventual If Not Immediate Fixing on Misty Rose:

1. My lack of a stove -- or something closely approximating a stove to replace my hated one-burner propane thing.

2. Installation of a refrigeration unit for my ice box (this should be on its way! Look for a separate post soon. You'll know it by the ecstatic overload of exclamation points and tons of pictures).

3. Installation of a shower -- as of now, lest you think poorly of me, I shower in the marina facility. If I install my shower and fix my hot water heater, I can shower in my own boat!

4. But only if I get an electric bilge pump. Until then, all shower water has to be pumped away by hand... My need for this is directly proportional to the number of sun showers I take and the the installation of a real shower.

5. Oiling the new cutting board that will fit over the sink and make more counterspace.

6. Remounting of the cabin light that hangs over my snack shelf -- I've screwed it in three times and it's clear I need longer screws, but I have a paranoia of, oh I don't know, screwing directly through the hull.

7. The salon cushions -- they seems to have odd lint. White lint. I have NO CLUE from whence it came or how to keep it from coming back. Man I hate lint.

8. Measuring and cost estimating an actual mattress (to replace a thin cushion) for my v-berth bed.

9. Another bleach cleaning for mold that has disturbingly grown back in some small crevices which shall remain nameless -- which I can't do until it stops raining and I can have the cabin open. I cannot work in an enclosed space with bleach or I will die. Seriously. Die.

10. Refinishing of the deck teak pieces which are a sad and dried-out grey.

11. De-gunking of my fresh water tank. It's growing seaweed. Why? Because it hates me.

12. Testing the engine compartment heater and looking into buying an oil heater, which my message board pal from Boston swears by in lieu of winterizing. In Boston. Huh.

13. The plastic inside porthole covers, which are cracking off their hinges (probably because they're 25 years old) and which fill, disturbingly, with water each time it rains. It's just a matter of time until that water wakes me up at 3 a.m. with a punch in the face. Which reminds me, I should add re-caulking and fiberglass hairline fracture-filling to the list.

What have we learned from this? Next to death and taxes, boat maintenance is right up there on the list of "Things That Are Sure."

Ida know... do you?

Well, it's that time of year. Hurricane season. We don't usually get them too bad up here in the Chesapeake Bay, but every once in a while you get something like the 2003 season when Hurricane Isabel came to call. Raise your hand if you remember Baltimore's Inner Harbor being underwater. Anyone? (Bueller? Bueller?)

Well, I do. Now we're awaiting the coming of Hurricane Ida -- or already feeling her effects, depending on whether you watch NOAA's weather reports or weather.com's.

Normally, I sit snug in my apartment and shake my fist at these puny little hurricanes. Now, I wish I'd never baited them. It's been raining gorillas and taxicabs (to quote my favorite charter boat captain) since last night and the wind and the waves are kicking up even in sheltered D.C. harbor. The boat is rocking to such a degree that I'm drinking bottled water because my cup would have fallen over by now. Freaky. I am, right now, watching the liquid in my bottle of water jiggle. The wind is howling and something outside (I'm guessing on the boat next door -- if it was mine, it'd sound much louder) is flapping against their hull. Walking around is almost like being underway, so much is the boat being rocked by the wind.

I, however, am secure in the fact that I have checked my dock lines (three times), my galoshes are ready to go and so is my foul weather jacket. (OK, so in a lack of preparedness moment I left the pants in the car. Sue me.) My heater is running full blast. I think I'll make it through the storm. Plus, I don't have to walk all the way to the bathroom ashore for a shower -- I can just step outside with my shampoo. (That was a joke. Please do not attempt to shower in the rain. Your hair will never be the same.)

I just wish the darn boat would stop rocking!

Doesn't this storm realize that I'm trying to get some work done in here? Jeez, Ida.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Can it...

Man am I tired. This past week has been like swimming in jeans. Slow and squelchy. And tiring. I'm not sure if it's the fact that we just had Daylight Saving Time start and it's dark early or the fact that I'm not getting good-quality sleep.

It seems anymore that the wind howling through the rigging wakes me up almost every night. For some reason, DC harbor has been getting gale-strength-sounding winds hit around 3 a.m. Not conducive to good sleep.

At any rate, even for being tired, I got a good amount done this weekend. Being that I don't have a refrigerator or a freezer, I've had to get creative with my food storage techniques. Rather than eat a lot of store-bought canned food (yick!) or have to go to the supermarket every day (over the summer, I went to the fish market every day and ate grilled fish with tomato slices and corn almost every night) I turned to home canning. This weekend, I drove out to a farm in Frederick and got a half bushel of Granny Smith apples and a bag of orchard seconds (apples with small bruises or imperfections) and canned it all. I yielded 6 quarts of applesauce, and 12 half-pints of apple preserves and apple butter. I saved a few apples to eat this week too. Trust me, they're waaaay better without the wax from the store.

So how did I get started on the path to 1950s Suzy Homemaker with my canning? Last year I decided to can applesauce just for a lark -- seriously, I can't remember why I decided it was a good idea to put applesauce in jars. I remember the furtive search all over Baltimore for the actual jars (I got started mid fall when Wally World had already put theirs away for the year), but not what drove me to can. In any case, this struck me as a great idea for this year.

So far, (and I think I may be finished -- unless I feel called to make marmalade for my boyfriend when citrus season rolls around) I've canned:

Apple preserves
Apple butter
Tomato sauce (plain -- contents? Tomatoes and a teaspoon of lemon juice per jar. Nothing else.)
Tomato chunks (I mix this tomato-basil chunk mix with sauce for spaghetti)
Tomato salsa
Raspberry jam

In my life Before Boat, I made huge pots of food -- chili, soup, tomato sauce, applesauce -- and froze it into portion-size packages. Now I can ingredients to make life easier. Next year I'll get a pressure canner and I'll be able to do beef stew, soups and vegetables.

Canning's other benefits? It's economical (I picked all the produce myself and the jars are reusable) but it's also locally grown food, I know exactly what's in it and, well... it just TASTES better.

Who can argue with that?

NOTE: Pictures to follow when I get back to my camera -- and get some sleep!

Friday, November 6, 2009

When company comes calling...

The most amusing part of liveaboard life is having people visit. And I'm not talking about my dad or my sailing friends (though I enjoy having them) I'm talking about the vast majority of my friends -- the landlubbers. You know, the non-boat people. The ones convinced that living on a boat must be something akin to camping. Yes, dear reader, I actually talk to non-boat people, God love 'em!

They come a-calling decked out in sweaters and thick socks, ready to brave the cold to spend some time visiting the boat.

Sadly, being the unevolved human that I am, I take a sort of perverse delight in watching the apprehensive come over for a drink or some company in their winter finery only to discover that -- it's just like a teeny-tiny apartment! Go figure.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a girlfriend stay a couple of nights while interviewing for graduate school at Georgetown. Incredulous upon arrival, she said, "Oh this is cozy, I thought it would be like camping!"

Last night, I had a friend over who'd read my blog. Focusing on the phrase, "haven't winterized yet," in an earlier entry, he dressed for cold weather -- which ended up to his advantage walking back to the metro at 11 p.m., but which I am afraid left him rather warm sitting in the salon. "My this really is warm. I'm surprised."

OK, so I definitely talk a good game about sleeping in my fleece pajamas with a down comforter, but that's mostly due to the fact that if I leave the space heater on too high it gets boiling hot, so I turn it very very low and the heat doesn't reach well into the v-berth, which is where I sleep. So I don't have well-placed vents as a house does -- but to me, my Misty is as good as... well... home!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Waging War (Or How Allie Vanquished the Thousands... of Spores)...

When I first decided to move onto Misty Rose, I took a trip down to Pasadena, Md., (where we kept her until I moved her to Washington). Misty hadn't been used all winter, and upon entering it was crystal clear to me that work would need to be done. Intense, hard, back-breaking work.

The largest problem, aside from an incredible amount of collected junk, was mold. And a gross mold smell. But mostly mold. I figured the smell would go away once the mold was dealt with. Ha. Sure it would.

Once I got the collected junk dispatched to Daddy dearest (whose junk -- excuse me, very important stuff -- it was) and to the marina Dumpster (where it belonged) I set in to researching the mold problem.

The first thing I did was take a shop vac and give everything a seriously good vacuuming, clearing the way for cleaning. I then removed the cushions from the v-berth and laid them in the sun for the day. The covers went home with me, where I washed them three times. Yes, you read that correctly, three times. After the first time the covers still smelled musty. The second time I went out and bought bleach substitute (I was worried bleach would ruin the color -- next time I will use regular bleach. The cushions are stained anyway). Slightly better. The third time with bleach substitute got them almost scent free. Then I laid them in the sun to dry and, hopefully, continue to air out.

The skipper whose charter boat I work on had an ozone generator. Upon hearing tales of hard-fought battles against the spores, he suggested that this would kill mold and eliminate stench. More deadly to mold than bleach, he promised. Great! I turned it to "high" and let it run in the boat, completely closed in, for the five hours it took me to scrub the outside of the boat. For this, I enlisted my ever-helpful boyfriend Jon, who was just delighted to help me. Ahem.

The ozone generator, as far as I could tell didn't help so much -- that or the mold decided to mount a counterstrike. I returned it to its owner and researched. Not so deadly as he thought, apparently, and possibly bad for the environment and my health. Great.

Onward and upward to bleach! Ahh the sweet smell of bleach. Yum.

Bleach cleaner mostly eradicated the mold on the pleather ceiling and wall surfaces and the head floor. On the rest of the floor I used Murphy's Oil Soap after the bleach and a stiff brush. And Clorox wipes (well, Wal Mart brand Clorox wipes) and swiffers and much pumping of the bilge. By hand. (We'll talk about the lack of electric bilge pump later.)

Finally, I covered all plush surfaces, cushions, etc. with baking soda vacuum powder, let it sit and absorb (or whatever it does) and vacuumed it up and made sure everything was bone dry.

The scent of mold lingers still, but the spores have been vanquished unto death!

Until I find places like this hidden away in the boat's recesses. Where's my bleach? This war will be won!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Touring the manse...

This is where I sleep, the v-berth. Note the down comforter. I have only one space heater so far, but I went to college in the Pennsylvania mountains. Down comforter it is!

Even though I live on a boat, a girl's gotta have her shoes. That pink bunny in the bottom right corner? My foot. A down comforter isn't enough. I need fleece pajamas. Don't judge me by my pink fleece footie pajamas. They're warm, OK?

The head. I cleaned it today and added "the blue stuff" since I was just pumped out. Moving on...

The center on my morning universe.

The galley! Note the absence of a stove. I have a single burner propane tank until my father finishes making a teak cabinet for a camp stove or until I save $2,000 to have a propane stove and enclosed tank put in. It's a draw on which will happen first...

My closet, aka the quarterberth. Funny story about how I used to keep my clothes in a cabinet that the head pumpout line ran through... good times. Now I keep them here.

The guest bedroom. The clothes hanging on the wall are hanging over a clock. My dad says the clock is worth a lot of money. It ticks. Loudly. Now it is an expensive coat rack. You can see my galoshes peeking out from underneath the coats.

The dining room/tv area/study area/place-I-spend-the-majority-of-my-time.

Lest you forget that I live on a boat, here is the backup propulsion system for when the wind fails me.

And that's my Misty Rose! (This last picture by my Mom.)

Not your typical liveaboard...

Ever seen the movie "The Money Pit"? It's about a young couple. The pair buy a dream house only to discover that it needs work. A lot of work.

When I first proposed living aboard my boat at the marina where I worked (I have been a sailing instructor since I was 15,) my boss, who I didn't know very well at the time, said, "Why?" in a very incredulous tone. It was almost the summer, and, having tasted freedom, I didn't want to move back home, was fed up with communiting and ready for the simple life. He asked questions: Did I know there was no electricity, that I would have to carry all my water? Did I know how unbearably hot Baltimore was going to be in August?

Of course I knew. I grew up in Baltimore without air conditioning. It stayed light until 8 p.m. and I had a lantern. Of course I could do it. And if not, maybe I would just move home. No harm done.

Through my first storm trapped inside a stifling boat to the harrowing storm-filled trip from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., I was able to live with it and even enjoy it.

Fast forward to November. Today. It is cold in Washington. And I don't have a fridge, don't have a stove, haven't winterized and can't seem to make my battery charger work well enough to allow me to use the cabin lights. But you know what? I still love it. How do I manage? Well you'll just have to keep reading, won't you?