Thursday, March 31

Radar (that's radar spelled backwards)

We spend a lot of time complaining about the boat. The heater broke, the fridge broke, shit's always leaking... and it always costs a lot of money to have it fixed. Every once in a while, I jump in and do the work myself and it really makes me feel good. In fact I just had a moment like that when our toilet started leaking (for the second time). I purchased a new pump unit and installed it myself. Now, any long-time boat owner out there knows this is not a difficult task, but hey you gotta start somewhere, and I'm happy with myself.

Sometimes, though, it's not at all the boat's fault when something breaks. Everyone note the date - sometimes it is MY fault. I know, I know, I'm shattering your perfect image of me, but yes, it's true: sometimes I make mistakes. Let me explain.

Last summer as we were getting ready to paint the boat I was prepping the top of the pilothouse around the radar. As you might know, radars have a cable that runs from the array (the spinning thing on the top of the boat) into the boat... well I didn't want to sand and paint the cable, so I wrapped it up onto the radar array to keep it out of the way. (My guess is you all just sucked air in through your clenched teeth as you can see where this is going.) Weeks later, when it was time to use the radar, I flicked it on and HMMMM, BZZZZZ... BEEEEEEP (that trusty beep again) Aw crap. Turns out I had never unwrapped the cable. When I turned on the radar the cable got tangled in the array, preventing it from rotating and throwing the radar into a noisy fit. I had just screwed up the radar. Fantastic. In one stupid second I broke the boat. How much is THIS one gonna cost!?!

Thousands. It would take thousands to replace it with a similar radar system. Not only would we need a new array but a new display too. Damn it. I was convinced I had just lived the most expensive single second of my life (maybe 2nd only to the day I closed on the boat). I tried to figure it out myself. Hey, maybe it was something simple. I thought I had slipped a gear in the motor (nope) or maybe I could open it up and see a burned wire (nope). Since replacement was so expensive, we decided repair was the only option and budgeted 1 or 2 BUs to take care of it... but of course we put this off till the spring.

Guess what. It's spring.

I called The Offshore Store, as I have heard they are the experts, to see if they service Ratheon Radars. "Yes, at $85 an hour. But we give free advice, what happened?" So I told my story, and he laughed at me but assured me I wasn't the first. The he said (with choirs of angels in the background) "Did you check the fuse in the back of the display?" I didn't know there was a fuse back there... but 0.0025 BUs later the radar works. Sometimes it just works out that way.

- Tom

Saturday, March 12

When the Lights Go Out in the City

Another reason we like living on a boat: the city just lost power, and all we had to do was turn on the generator. Of course, that reminds us our generator needs a new hose! Luckily, we can also run the main diesels. While houses about town scramble for flashlights and candles, we kicked back to watch TV. The only downfall - you've gotta turn the volume up LOUD TO HEAR IT OVER THE ENGINE!


Monday, March 7

Better than ADT

So, in light of some recent events I've installed a home security system. It looks a little like this...

This boat protected by GhettoCover(tm)

This system was developed to deter would-be thieves from coming on board and being disappointed. I wouldn't want anyone to expend that much effort sneaking around, breaking and entering, just for a 15 year old microwave and a bunch of books.

Actually, that window has been leaking, so the "privacy glass" is a temporary fix until it stops raining. That plastic sheeting can work short term miracles! (I call them short term, but if you ask Jessi, I bet she says they've been up there too long.) We have the plastic in several places on the boat - I guess it's a multi zone security system. I love using it, it does a great job keeping us dry, but it has one odd characteristic. No matter how small a piece you cut out of the roll, the remaining piece hanging off the roll will be too small for your next project. Of course you don't want to throw away that seemingly useful piece of plastic, so you cut it off the roll and store it. Eventually your storage spot gets so crammed with leftover sheets that you get fed up and throw them all away. That day... a new leak... which (of course) requires a piece of plastic to cover it. And (of course) you HAD a piece that would've worked perfectly. So, you cut a new piece, and the cycle continues. It's almost as if the plastic sheet manufacturer has a side deal with the "leak gods" to keep themselves in business.

So I guess its purpose is two-fold. We feel dryer, and at the same time more secure! But I must admit it is kind of ugly. However, we do feel better when we talk to other boaters who either have their whole boat covered in plastic, or use it like we do, to cover up incomplete projects.

That's a lot of plastic.

And, if if you recall, that blue tape is actually an "effort indicator." People see blue tape and think, "Well, it may be ugly, but at least he's working on it!" And now that the weather is getting nicer, I may actually have to work on it...