Sunday, April 19, 2015

Living Aboard - Household (Part 4)

Part 1 is here:
Part 2 is here:
Part 3 is here:

You made it through the sea trial. The bank loves you. You are still with your significant other (or not.) You are about to (or have) taken delivery. You are ready to move on. What do you take?

Viewpoint: My blog is written from the standpoint of a world cruiser. If you are going to buy a boat, keep it at a local marina near your home, and store your cleaning stuff in your dock box this post really isn't relevant.

Post Cruise Cleaning: After a cruise of any duration a deep cleaning is required. One normally also has to open every cabinet and drawer and air it out. Most clothing will have absorbed moisture and need to be dried. Having completed the major exterior projects on Reboot it was time to focus some attention to bringing the interior back in shape.As a result I have been sorting and tossing as I go through each part of the boat.

How many people are on board?: As I sorted I noticed that the quantity of several items did not match the expected number of people on board. For example, I have (had - they are gone now) 21 coffee cups. My first reaction was to store 19 of them. Then as I thought about it I realized two truths about sailboats: 1) Storage space is at a premium for all the stuff you really need; 2) Everything you store adds weight. The more weight (any racer will tell you) the more your boat sinks into the water and the slower you go. Off they go to the "free table." (I will not bore you with the large quantity of various kinds of stuff I found in excess that got carted off to the free table.)

[Small but important aside]
The "Free Table:" In the days before E-Bay cruisers created the "free table." In every marina there was a spot where cruisers could leave things they no longer needed to be collected by other cruisers that could put them to use. Some items were taken to marine consignment stores and now some are sold on E-Bay and Craig's list. But the tradition still holds of putting out your spare gear for other cruiser's benefit.
[/Small but important aside]

Paper vs. Plastic: Or in the instant case, paper vs. china. If you are a member of my generation (old) you most likely have a collection of real china, crystal, and sterling silver.  It is carefully wrapped an brought out for holiday and family gatherings. At the boat shows the salon table is set with place mats, tableware, flowers, wine glasses, etc. None of these things have any place on a sailboat (you need space for the golf clubs, umbrella, and wheelbarrow!) On Reboot I do have one set (for four) of "guest china.") It is normally packed away and brought out for special occasions. For day to day living I depend on paper. There are several reasons:
  • One of the most critical resources on a boat is water. Water is for drinking and occasional sponge baths, not for washing dishes.
  • Water is heavy.
  • Paper is quiet. Sailboats are not quiet. The sound of the wind, the banging of the waves against the hull, these are things one learns to appreciate (except when the wind exceeds 30 knots or the waves 5 feet.) Everything else is a distraction. In a storm the clinking of the china and glassware is enough to drive one crazy if one is not already in this state.
  • Paper (not plastic coated) can be disposed of overboard when at sea. This greatly reduces the amount of garbage one is carrying around.
Pots and Pans: What do you cook? How many pots and pans do you really need? After consideration about 80% of my stock headed for the free table.

Kitchenware: (or gadgets.) Do you really need a lettuce dryer? A garlic press? 45 different kinds of spices (that will all get moist and ruined?) By the same token you need two of the critical things that might rust or break (like a can opener and a wand lighter.) Some things are small and easy to store (like a cheese grater.) Some are important (like measuring cups (get plastic.)) Cast a critical eye. Dump the excess.

Clothing: A somewhat counter intuitive problem. Above I keep saying get along with less. Here I say make sure you have enough. Clothing that has been soaked by salt water does not dry unless the salt is washed out first. Even in warm climes it gets cold on the deck at night. In fact I have "winter gear" (long underwear, gloves, ski mask, watch cap, insulated boots) that get an amazing amount of use even in temperate climates. Forget anything that needs dry cleaning, it will be hard to come by and expensive. A couple of nice outfits for dinners out are appropriate. They are also what you wear when you check in and out to show respect for the officials. Remember, a lot of cultures you will visit are much more modest than the United States (a very few are much less modest. Cherchez la femme!) Pretty much anything you bring on board is going to get wet (or damp) and beaten up. Things you need:
  • Everyday wear: I live in T'shirts and shorts or jeans,
  • Wind breaker - a lightweight shell,
  • A warmer coat for mild evenings,
  • Offshore foulies - top, pants, and boots. Most of the time you will be in the cabin in bad weather but when you need to go out you need to be properly equipped,
  • Cold weather gear - see above,
  • Nice easy to maintain outfits for nights out and "official" visits,
  • Swimwear.
Boating clothing: If you visit West Marine you will find a large quantity of "soft goods." They are following the lead of Harley Davidson who found they could make more money selling clothing than motorcycles in their stores. Most of it is overpriced junk. (I once visited the Madison Avenue Calvin Kline store with a very attractive young lady - they though I was her sugar daddy but I am actually just a friend. They showed her some "boating wear" that started at $3,500 for a pair of shorts and $4,500 for the matching top! What a joke! The stuff was so over designed that one would be laughed off the dock!) Any decent quality clothing is going to be fine. Plus you want a bunch of cheap junk - trashing a $!5 T-shirt from Walmart is a lot easier than a $90 shirt from the department store.

Tools: By far my largest storage problem on Reboot is tools. When I lived in a house I had a very complete shop. I lent (for an indeterminate period of time) most of my big tools to a friend - table saw, router, drill press, etc. (I needed the space to store the wheelbarrow.) I still brought a lot of tools with me since when I moved on Reboot I left nothing behind on shore. Over the years I have ended up using most of them but there is a small core of tools (for drilling, fixing electrical problems, etc.) that I use over and over. If either of my sons ever purchases a home I will fob off some of the large and infrequently used tools (like my sawzall)  But even that has come in handy when padlocks have corroded and I needed to cut them off. Somewhat out of the ordinary things that you might consider having on board include:
  • Loos & Co. tension gauge for tuning the rig,
  • Blowtorch for "butane backsplicing" in windy environments,
  • "Fish rods" for running cables for new equipment behind the surface areas of the boat.
  • Engine oil changing device (most marine engines don't have a drain plug. You change the oil by sucking it out of the dip stick tube with a vacuum device.
Over time you will figure out what you use all the time (things like screwdrivers, wrenches, etc.) and they will get stored in an easy to use place. The rest you will either pack carefully (to protect them from corrosion) or take off the boat.

Spares (Absolute necessities:)

Some things you just don't "leave home without it!" They include:
  • Fuel filters: At least two of each type on the boat. If you clog a filter chances are the replacement will clog quickly hence the need for at least two. I always keep five (5) spares on the boat. I have had friends who have gone through all five in one incident.
  • Impellers: At least two (the impeller is the thing that keeps the water circulating in the engine. Broken impeller, no engine.
  • Fan belts: Again, at least two spares
  • Fuel treatment (biocide) Diesel fuel, particularly in hot climates gets full of growth that clogs the fuel filters.
Spares (Good to have:)

Some things you will just use over time. This is not a complete list but things to consider:
  • Oil filters and oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Batteries, lots of them - AAA, AA, D, etc.

Cleaning products:
My only note here is pay attention to the "active ingredients." Usually they are cheaper to purchase (like oxalic acid) then the formulated products. White vinegar is cheap and as good a head treatment as the expensive stuff you buy at the boat store.

Back to work on Reboot. Fair winds and following seas :)

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