Thursday, March 19, 2015

Contentment: best word to describe living aboard

A few weeks after we moved aboard we looked at each other and smiled. "What are you feeling right now?" I asked my wife. She thought for a minute and answered, "Content."

I think about that a lot over the last few months. While we have had some frustrations -- I'm thinking plumbing right now -- the overall feeling is contentment. Perhaps that's why I haven't been as regular at posting to this blog. It's not that there isn't a lot of exciting things to post about, there is. We are still busy getting the boat ready. The last few months have been a blur of buying and installing gear that will turn Oceanus into our own escape module to take us places we now only dream about.

Impulse, another Columbia 43, fitted with a Hydrovane.
We recently took delivery of our new Hydrovane, an auto-steering device that uses the wind to keep the boat on course so you can do other things. The Hydrovane is made in Nottingham, England. Yes, that Nottingham: Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest, Sheriff of, and so on. This prompted Virginia to name our newest crew member Maid Marian. Sadly, the Maid must remain in her boxes for a couple more weeks while we continue to work on more pressing matters, but it's exciting to have her onboard nonetheless.

One of Ocean's 11 winches clean and ready for lubricating. 
I continue to work on the wiring and plumbing. We now have running water, but hot running water is still in the works. Wiring and plumbing is frustrating, difficult work for me, so I intersperse it with fun stuff, like servicing the 12 winches aboard Oceanus, finishing up some woodworking projects or rehabbing our dinghy.

Tethys getting new inwale and outwale. I used more than 50 clamps on the new rails while the epoxy set.
Working on the dinghy is the most fun. We named her Tethys, who was the wife (and sister) of Oceanus in Greek mythology. I bought the little 8.5-foot dinghy last year. We are still trying to figure out who made her and when. I believe she is at least as old as old as Oceanus (1971) because she did not have a Hull Identification Number, which was required after 1972. I had her inspected by the marine deputy and recently received a new HIN and clean title from the Oregon State Marine Board. While her hull is sound, the wooden thwarts and gunnels were in bad shape. I was able to rehab most of the wood making up the thwarts, but the gunnels had to be replaced. Getting them off was a chore -- they were both riveted and screwed on. Once I got them off, the project became pure woodworking bliss.

New quarter knees clamped in place while the epoxy sets.
I reinforced the transom, added teak quarter knees and a breast hook to strengthen the boat, since we bought a little 2.5 hp Lehr outboard. For such a tradition-looking dinghy, not having quarter knees and a breasthook just didn't look right to my eye, so I would have made then anyway. They also make wonderful handholds for lifting the dinghy or pulling her up on the beach. When I epoxied the new gunnels on I ended up using more than 50 clamps. I think the clamps weighed more than the 90-pound dinghy. After the epoxy set I added screws, countersunk and plugged, of course. She's all done except the painting, which Virginia is itching to do.

Yesterday brought a pair of Dinghy Dogs in the mail. These are two large inflatable hot dogs that attach to the side of the dinghy to make her more stable. Since they don't drag in the water, the won't hurt the wonderful rowing qualities of the dinghy, but they will make it unsinkable and more stable for beach landings through the surf, scuba diving off the dinghy and getting in and out of her from the mother ship.

Turkey breast dinner with all the fixings cooked in the pressure cooker.
Just learning to live aboard is fun. Virginia continues to amaze me with her cooking using only an induction hot plate and microwave while I figure out the propane installation. Her new pressure cooker is the go-to cooking implement. We got a pressure cooker for our wedding 38 years ago, but we really only used it to cook mashed potatoes. Then she got this new one and it's amazing; no rattling, hissing, steaming, or any of the stuff we associated with the old pressure cooker. The new one has a little yellow button that pops up when it comes to pressure and it quietly cooks away with no noise or steam, which helps keep moisture out of the boat. Among other things, she cooks cheesecake, brownies, crème brûlée, amazing Hawaiian pork, some of the best pork chops I've ever tasted, a turkey breast, and the lingcod that our fishing friend Tom McAdams gives to us about once a week.

The shoppers

Yes we had sunshine on the Oregon coast!
Over Presidents' Day weekend we had our oldest granddaughter and our youngest daughter-in-law come stay with us on the boat for three nights. It was a good test of having guests aboard. It went really well and we all felt comfortable (even me). Not only did we have room for our two guests, but we easily stowed the wheelbarrow-full of shoes and clothes they bought with Virginia at the Woodburn Outlet Mall.

Having guests, especially of the female persuasion, meant I had to finally hang the teak door on the head. The door came from an old wooden boat that was parted out before it sank. It took a lot of stripping and sanding, but the door is now really beautiful. I paid $100 for it. I'm sure I would have had to spend at least that much to buy just the wood to make a door. Before anyone mourns the passing of a "beautiful old wooden boat" this one needed to die. It was rotten through and through. To top it of it was named Love Child. Ick! The bad news is every time I tell the story I can't get the song out of my head.