Monday, October 26, 2015

The Cost Of Cruising - Dos Libras' Second Year

Last year I posted our cruising costs and got a lot of feedback, mostly positive... and a few negative.  That blog post has had 1, 422 views in less than a year making it one of the most popular posts I've done... People want to know!  How much DOES cruising cost???

Throughout the year I've seen the question asked many times on Facebook in the many groups I frequent... and I'm always astounded at the numbers.  Usually it's people who are contemplating cruising and want to know if they have enough income or savings to support the lifestyle.  A number that seems to come up often is $1,500.  People want to know if they can cruise on $1,500 per month.

The astounding part is the number of positive responses they get!!!  While I'm sure that there are lots of cruising boats out there with a budget of $1,500 per month or so... I think it is irresponsible for anyone to be led to believe that this is the norm.

The answer to the question: How much does cruising cost?... is impossible to answer.  Each person must know themselves and their needs.  If you don't need refrigeration, hot water, or any of the other amenities that can be loaded onto a sailboat to be happy... then by all means, go with your $1,500 per month.  If you don't plan on stopping in a marina now and then, if you plan to go only where the winds take you and not motor, if you plan to live off the land and not eat out or see the sights ashore... then sure!  You can do it!

But if your sailboat is your home.  If you aren't just out for a "trip" with the intention of returning home in a few months or a year... If you want to really experience the places you visit...If you are diligent in the maintenance and improvement of your mobile abode, then the answer to that question most assuredly has to be "No, you can't cruise on $1,500 per month".

When you add all of the maintenance and insurance and everything else that makes a life, the numbers add up fast!

Last year when I posted our tally I expressed my hopes that our second year would be less costly than our first.  Muuuuuaaahhhahahahaa!  Silly Tammy.  What was I thinking?  For all the money we've spent this year you would think that we're sailing around in a POS!!!  It's kind of funny when you think about it... We spend more money making our aging girl look and feel nice than we do for ourselves!!!

Anyway... once again without further ado... The numbers are in!

Auto  Repair Maintenance (obviously optional ) 805.97
Boat Bits  Major (see listing below) 16,435.80
Boat Bits  Misc. (all the little stuff) 4,418.91
Boat Repairman (bottom job and generator repair) 10,136.42
Clothing 619.13
Data/PhoneiPad Apps/Charts (we purchased charts for the caribbean) 1,770.43
Dining Out 2,909.33
Dock / Mooring 4,614.59
Entertainment 694.09
Fees/Registrations/Memberships 901.82
Fuel 2,388.07
Gifts 354.60
Groceries Household Goods 6,470.15
Insurance   Boat 2,932.75
Insurance   Car 391.88
Laundry 388.75
Liquor 676.40
Medical (physicals and cataract surgery) 2,287.22
Misc. 1,223.92
Pet Expenses Vet Fees Supplies 482.25
Postage 92.12
Propane 34.00
Public Transportation 23.50
Pumpout 10.00
Technology 790.20
Tips 158.00
Trash 20.00
Travel  Off Boat 575.58
Water 268.63

Where did it all go?  Well let me list the larger expenses for you...  In this last year we purchased a new windlass and chain (2,500), spent a little over 4,000 on our generator, had a bottom job and repairs/maintanance on the hull (6,800), bought a water maker (7,400 + misc installation costs), purchased a new mainsail and repaired our jib (4,000), and made a new sail pack for the main (700 roughly).  Those are just the big things and don't include the many, many other minor boat bits we've bought to keep our boat in good shape.  

The costs of actually LIVING are few in comparison...  Food and entertainment are things that we can manage and control.  We can choose not to go out and spend big bucks on a meal... we can choose not to buy that new outfit... but we can't continue to cruise without a mainsail...  OK the water maker is a luxury, but not when you consider the fact that having one opens up so many cruising areas that we couldn't really go without one...

So when the estimates of $1,500 per month to cruise come out... ask those questions.  What does that include?  My numbers may include many things that you will never need, and that's exactly why I list them out in categories.  So that you can decide based upon your own needs, just how much cruising costs.  

We've spent a LOT of money on upgrades this summer.  But our hope is that when we leave the dock later this month we will be good for a while.  Our costs while in the Bahamas were few.  But our provisioning cost prior to leaving for the Bahamas made that possible.  As we travel further this next year we will eventually run out of provisions and have to live off the land.  So this next year should be very different from the past two...  

I wonder what next year's tally will look like...

I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too. –Steve Martin

Monday, October 12, 2015

Let There Be Water

Spectra Cape Horn Xtreme
We've run out of excuses for not installing the water maker we bought thirteen weeks ago.  My how time flies when you're avoiding unpleasantness...

I don't know why we've been so apprehensive about this project.  It has been looming over our heads like a dark cloud, growing in proportion and scariness until I was almost ready to throw in the towel and just hire somebody to do it.  But with this already being the most expensive summer in Dos Libras history (think new mainsail, purchase of water maker, bottom job and unexpected repair, trip to California to name a few), so with a quote of $2,500 ballpark for installation, we put on our big-maintenance-man-panties and here we go!

Getting a little push from Ryan, from whom we purchased our water maker, was just what we needed.  He happened to be in town and came by while the boat was in the boatyard to give us some advice.  After spending about an hour with him looking at all of our installation options and getting some pointers, Bruce and I both felt a little better about the project.  Maybe it's not going to be so bad after all.

So without further ado...  I present to you:

Watermaker Installation:  Day 1

Looking down into the bottom of the boat
Today went well.  We made headway.  We didn't run into any insurmountable snags.  We solved some problems.  The first job we tackled was running the power from the 12 volt panel to the chosen installation site.  We pulled up the flooring and the sub-flooring to expose the water tanks and other boat bowels and found an easy path to run the 10 gauge wire from behind the panel and up through a new hole in our floor where we will mount the primary feed pumps.

We ran the wire up through a hole we drilled in the floor
We are mounting the two Primary Feed Pump Modules (see illustration at the bottom of the post) inside the end cap of our galley counter.  There is a swing out door that holds a small collection of liquor bottle.  We found a place here in Gulfport that will remove the shelves from inside the cabinet door (we tried using a mallet with no success).  We took the door to them and it should be ready for pickup tomorrow.

Not wanting to drill any mounting holes inside that space without having the door on site for meticulous measurements, we tabled mounting the feed pumps until tomorrow.  We will only have about 1/2 inch side to side and three inches top to bottom to play with when we mount these things, so we will create a template tomorrow when we get the door back.

We mounted the raw water strainer that pre-filters the water that will come from a thru-hull in the bottom of the boat.  The boatyard recently re-bedded that fitting after finding it loose.  Lucky us!  We went ahead and cut the short piece of hose to connect the thru-hull to the strainer ready for the next step which will be to run a hose from the strainer to one of the Feed Pump A.

We spent some time with the floorboards pulled up looking for the perfect spot to make the holes through which the hoses will pass from the intake - to the feed pumps - and then over to the Clark Pump, which will reside beneath the starboard side settee.  We  will need to drill some holes between two sections of the pan beneath the floor but we found another set of holes already there from the old water maker we had removed last year.

It doesn't sound like much, but all in all, we're happy with our progress today.  We're taking our time in hopes of avoiding mistakes and feel that we are set up for more progress tomorrow.  I think we'll sleep well tonight.

Watermaker Installation:  Day 2

Today went well.  We are happy.  There will be no divorce, although towards the end of the day it was getting iffy...

We got a slow start because the thing we would have liked to do was put on hold until we got our cabinet door back from Stine Woodworking.  We didn't want to drill any holes until we had the door on site so that we could check and double check the placing of our pumps.  
I've been doing some number crunching with the measurements I took yesterday and I've got a template in the works.  It looked as if one of the pumps isn't going to fit and we might have to do some finagling.
So what's next?   We took up where we left off yesterday running the hoses.  We removed all of the floor boards again to make sure we were in the right position and the hoses wouldn't bind on the AC strainer.  We had to drill a big hole in the floor and in the liner below the floor. 

I started the process but it seemed so violent I chickened out and gave it over to Bruce to finish making the huge hole through all those layers in our floor!
Every time we do an invasive project like this we are blown away by the robustness of our boat.  It is built so heavy and well...  Just LOOK at the thickness of our floor! It's a wonder that the boat still floats!
Pilot hole for one side
Two more holes had to be drilled, one in each side of the liner pan so that we could pass the two hoses through form one section to the other.  First we drilled pilot holes, then we used the hole bit to drill through the fiberglass in each side.  Luckily, the holes lined up and I could easily pass the hoses through.  I used duct tape (maybe not optimal) to line the inside of the hole to reduce chafe on the hoses.
Pilot hole other side

Big hole 

Big hole on the other side.

Yay!  They line up!

Hoses finished!

At this point we could go no further without the cabinet door.  I called John at Stine and he said we could come get the door.  We arrived at the shop and he showed us a piece of the shelf he had removed that had about 20 little nails sticking out of it.  Evidently the shelves weren't just glued in...

John had done a wonderful job and we were so glad we didn't try to do this ourselves.  He used thin strips of teak to cover the area exposed by the shelves and we are thrilled with how it turned out.

It's so easy when you have the right tools...
He also threw in a piece of wood that we can use to make a template for our next step... mounting the Clark Pump.

Back at the boat, our attention moved  to mounting the Clark Pump inside the starboard settee.  Ryan gave us a great idea that saved us from having to come up with a way of mounting the thing on the bottom of this space... If we don't mind visible bolt heads, we can just mount it sideways with ample space to get to the nuts and bolts.

We drilled holes in the piece of wood John gave us... Then we made sure the thing fit in the space and decided where to position it.

Next we taped the wood template to the inside of the space and drilled the holes.   I had to kind of stand on my head to do it but that's part of the fun of sailboat ownership, right?

Jezabelle graced us with her presence at this point.  I think it was getting on towards cat feeding time and she wanted to make her presence know.  At one point, she literally walked across my back in an effort to get my attention.  FEED ME!!!

To say that we were thrilled when we learned that our template trick had worked and the bolts all fit into the holes when the time came... is an understatement.  We popped the bolts in and tightened them down and voila!  Done!

What a great day!  We're well on our way to getting this thing done.  We spent a little time measuring and thinking about where we'll be starting in the morning.

We are GLAD we didn't try to mount the feed pump modules without that door.  It turns out that the tricky part won't be as tricky after all.  Tomorrow looks GOOD!

Watermaker Installation:  Day 3

We are jubilant!!!  The primary feed pumps fit inside the cabinet!!!  And the door even closes!  Our plan was to drill the holes using the template I've worked on for days... then measure to see what size bolts we need to mount the pumps onto the inside wall of the cabinet.

The issue was that there is a track for our slide out trash can and the runners for the drawer on the other side of that wall...Luckily only one hole fell directly on the metal track, but we will just put a screw in from the outside on that one and use bolts and locking nuts from the other side on the rest.

I did one small adjustment to my measurements on the template in the morning and then slapped it up there and began drilling.  In the end, only one hole was slightly off and had to be redrilled.  I'm calling that a resounding success!!!

Once we had our measurements for the bolts, we went in search of the parts.  We also needed to pick up some stuff for the electric part of the installation.  We were able to get what we needed but that will be for another day.

We returned back to the boat and mounted the two pumps.  Next came attaching the hoses.  I had to pay close attention to the manual to make sure that we had all of the hoses running from and to the correct place... We needed to adjust a few of the pre-installed fittings so that the hoses would not have sharp bends or kinks... but I think we've got it all set.  I will tell you that some of them were a very tight fit and I had to wrangle them a bit.

And then suddenly we were done!  Only one more hose to do and that requires more hole-cutting... tomorrow is another day.   The best part of this is that the door still closes!!  This is HUGE because there isn't even a half inch tolerance for error on any edge.  We NAILED it!
Watermaker Installation:  Day 4

We knew just what we would be doing today so we got an early start.  All we needed to do was run a hose form our pressurized water system to one of the fittings on one of the feed pumps and connect the power supply... and then what?  Yeah, this is where it's beginning to be a little fuzzy...

The morning went well.  We thought we might have to make another run for supplies because the hoses we are using so far have been one size, and the hoses that our water system uses were not the same size...  But Spectra really knows what they're doing!

The barb that the hose fits on IS the same size as our pressurized water system uses!  AWESOME!  We have some spare hose and fittings already so we just rolled right on into the final hose fittings for this part of the installation.

It's not pretty but there's a LOT going on under there!
When we realized that turning the water pressure back on would flood water into the filter canister we were horrified!  What if we've done something wrong??? What if we're not supposed to let the water in yet??? Maybe we need a shutoff valve here.  I consulted Ryan and he assured us it was OK... so we flipped the switch and watched as water filled the canister...
The world didn't end, so we continued on to hooking up the power!  We had already run the #10 wire from the 12 volt panel, but neither end is hooked up yet.  We found the parts we need to take the 30 amp fuse at the panel and connect it to the two 15 amp fuses that run to each of the two pumps.

Bruce knows more about these things than I do but I like learning and by that I mean I'm "Hands On"... which is good because my fingers are smaller and more nimble than Bruce's... so it works for him too.

I drilled the holes to mount the fuse box and figured out how to run the wires from each pump to the box.

I connected the power wire from the 12 volt panel to the fuse box then attached the wires from each of the pumps.  Then I coiled the wired neatly and affixed them to the wall with one of those little do-dads...

Standing back and surveying our work... I would say that we did a pretty good job!  We can now close this door for a while and move on to other things.

By this time it was mid afternoon.  Connecting the wire to the main power source was a piece of cake.  Bruce went to work making that happen but once again, my smaller fingers were needed to finish the job.

Reaching in between all of those wires, unscrewing the connectors, attaching the wires and screwing them back down again...

Did you notice I'm still wearing my jammies?  Perks of boat projects when you never have to leave home!

Yeah... there would have been a LOT of cussing had Bruce done the job.

Once that was all tidied away, we turned our attention to the next phase... Yeah, we aren't sure what exactly that is yet.

We took a look at the parts and we may be missing a piece.  We put together some fittings with lots of teflon tape (one of my favorite things to do) and then took a look at the clock.  It was 4 pm.  We are tired.  We've been working on this for three days straight.  I think we'll take a break...

Watermaker Installation:  Days 5, 6, 7 & 8

Working down inside the settee with tiny fittings...
We did other things for two days to clear our heads and well, because we had other things to do.  The next morning we got up ready to hit it again.  All we need to do is to hook up the tiny "product" hoses  under the starboard settee and we're done!  But we ran into a snag.  When our water maker was tested before being shipped to us, they used the product port at the left side end and left the fittings attached there.  We need them on the right hand side for more easy access.

In moving the fittings, I think I may have damaged the delicate threads because when I put them into the port and tried to tighten it, it just kept spinning and spinning.

The one I used is on the left, the buggered one is on the right.
So we went in search of a new fitting... all over town.  We didn't get back to the boat until late afternoon.  We were tired and dejected and just called it a day.  A wasted day.

The next morning we tapped the tiny hose into the product port using the little white fitting because we had no other like it on hand.  We used a straight hose fitting in place of the elbow.  It didn't make any difference and they're sending us new fittings anyway... so if it leaks when we start the system up, we'll change these out with the new ones.   Moving on...

Now I have a small clue as to how a surgeon feels working inside a body...

We placed our accumulator tank, marking the hull where we would later glue a wooden mounting block to hold the small tank.  We ran the hoses to and from the accumulator tank.

We created a mount for the gauge panel so that we could attach the hoses with room for them to run out the top and bottom when mounted to the hull.

I think it was about this time that we decided that instead of using three separate mounting blocks to affix these components to the hull, we would go and find a piece of plywood and have it cut to fit inside the space and hold all three pieces.

We went back to our trusted friend John at Stine Woodworking and he had just the piece.  We painted it with a thick white, mildew resistant paint and called it a day.

The next morning we were encouraged.  We just knew we could finish this job today and maybe still have time to do some other things.  By mid morning we had all of the hoses run except for those that attach to the product diverter valve.

We turned our attention to the v-berth.  Our primary water tank holds 50 gallons of water and sits beneath the bed up there.  There used to be a water maker partially installed and we had removed the T-valve from the hose up there so we thought it would be easy to just do the same with the new hoses.

We destroyed our home.  Stuff was everywhere.  It looked like a bomb had exploded and scattered all of our belongings.

We studied the tank situation for a minute.  It didn't make sense.  The T-fitting we had removed was actually tying into the hose that leads from the tank to the pressure pump... Water shouldn't be able to run back into the tank from there because there's some kind of hose inside that cap that allows the pressure pump to pull water from the bottom of the tank... Hmmm. Maybe this is why the previous water maker wasn't installed!!!  So what do we do?

Here I go drilling the pilot hole!
One more call to Ryan at RK Marine Services and we had our answer.  We would have to tap a new hole in the top of the tank and then thread the hole so that we could screw one of our hose fittings in.  Yes, there will be aluminum shavings in our tank.  But we have a screen on it and you should see the size of the rocks and stuff that come out of there already!  It's horrifying!

Bruce stepping in for the scary part.
One more trip to the Ace Hardware for the right size tap so we could make the threads in the aluminum hole.  I drilled the smaller pilot hole, then chickened out and let Bruce handle the larger hole with the big mean bit.

Looks a little cati-whompus doesn't it?
We had our hole and I don't think too much of the shavings got inside because I was slopping them up with the vacuum the whole time.

Bruce took a turn with the tool to thread the hole, then I finessed it a bit to get the fitting to screw in...

After screwing the fitting into the hole leaving some room at the top, I used tape to mask the area so that the 5200 wouldn't make a big mess.

I poked the 5200 into the space to seal the fitting and then pulled off the masking tape.  Voila!  No mess!

A thing of beauty...
Seems so innocent...
After all that, running the tiny hose from the saloon to the v-berth was a piece of cake.  I went back out into the saloon and found the bitter end of the tube that was previously run through the walls and floor.  It was a little bigger in diameter than our new hose, so I just stuck the new hose into the end of the old one and Bruce fed the new hose through as I pulled from the other end.  It worked like a charm! Well something has to work now and then, right???

I affixed some bundle ties to the wooden structures to hold the tiny hose in place.  One was easy... the second one I had to do with my arm stuck full length into the bowels of the boat where I could barely reach the other hand in to turn the screw... AFTER drilling a hole in there.  I could only see what I was doing with one eye at a time!!!

Tell me why I'm not the kind of girl who sits on the deck with a cocktail working on my tan while I let my husband do these insane things???  Oh yeah... it's because his big arms and hands can't get into these spaces... or at least that's what he likes me to believe.

Two more bundle ties to keep the tiny hose out of the way inside the settee and I was ready to hook up the final fittings.

Doesn't look like much... does it?
Three more hoses connected the to the product diverter valve from the pressure gauge and to the tank. It was getting late but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Sweat was pouring off my face, dripping from my nose, soaking my shirt... Suddenly we were done!  DONE!!

Let me assure you that to Bruce and I... it looks like $2500 bucks!  (the quote to have a professional do this job) And in matters of our time... it's worth a whole lot more than that!  But I must say that my biggest fear went unrealized.  The fear that we would be divorced over this job.  It was just so intense that somehow we pulled together and figured it out.  We took the best ideas from each of us and made it work.

Now... let's see if the water maker works.  Ryan said that he's never seen an installation go without at least one leak somewhere.

We wait for a good day for a boat ride...

A Good Day For A Boat Ride...

We invited the kids out for a boat ride and to try out the water maker for the first time.  I figured if this went badly and Bruce and I threw ourselves onto machetes... there needed to be someone onboard to call 911.

We turned on the power to the first pump and it came to life.  YAY.  POWER!  Then we tried the second pump.  They both work.  We pumped water through for about 20 minutes to flush out all of the pickling agent inside.  Then we started to apply pressure by closing the pressure relief valve.

We began to see a bit of pressure building but not the 80-100 psi that we expected but water began to slowly trickle out of the product hose so we watched and waited. There seems to be some burps and we could see some intermittent bubbles inside the hoses.  I put in a call to Ryan.  I tested the water after about 20 minutes and it read in the 350-360 ppm range, which is in about the mid range on the potable water scale.

When Ryan called us back, I told him about the bubbles.  We had started our search for possible introductions sites in the hoses and found them coming from the actual intake thru-hull.  How could this be???  Ryan assured me that we hadn't already ruined our membrane but we need to find out why there are bubbles coming in a thru-hull that is down near our keel!!!

We turned off the water maker.  It had done it's job.  We're calling it a successful installation.  There are no water leaks (at least not yet at the lower pressure) and it actually makes water.... although not yet to my liking.  We investigated the thru hull and found issues.... Well, one project down and throw another one onto the pile!

Enjoy this video taken by my daughter, Melissa/