Sunday, August 17, 2014

sunday share!

In the search for a versatile solution for entertainment onboard, there were many options for prepackaged 12 volt TVs, but none of them had great reviews.  I was inspired by some of the concepts Ben Ellison used for his “Chart Table 21” onboard M/V Gizmo (Panbo Chart Table 21). So I decided to try to find a television that I could run directly off of the boat’s 12 volt system without having to waste energy by using the inverter and then plugging in a power brick to convert back to DC.  I also referenced Bob Stewart over at Island Time PC (Island Time PC).  He has a nice list of monitors that can be run from 12 volt systems with a little bit of cord searching.  In a moment of serendipity, I received my weekly Costco email listing their sales.  One monitor stood out from the pack it was a Samsung T24C550ND.  It was on sale for $150 (Amazon has it for the same price), much cheaper than any other 12 volt 24” display I could find.  They actually sell it as a television as it has a built in tuner as well as a wonderful function called “ConnectShare” that allows you to plug in a USB drive to the back and watch videos, look at pictures, or listen to music directly from the drive.  Having converted a large portion of my collection to digital formats for consumption on an iPad, having the ability to watch movies off a flash drive seemed like a wonderful development. 

So step one was stopping by Costco on the way up to the boat.  We got the TV and tested everything out with the included power brick to ensure it would run fine and that the ConnectShare feature worked the way that it was billed ( it plays at least .mp4 and .avi videos pretty much flawlessly).  The next step was to try to figure out the best way to test out powering it from the 12 volt system.  I had emailed Bob Stewart to get his input on the matter and he sagely recommended ordering a compatible 12 volt plug online because who would want to cut up a perfectly good power supply.  Bob thought that it would likely have a 5.5 mm barrel plug, but when I started looking closer at the power plug, I discovered that the Model A4514 DDY 45W power supply had an OD of 6.5mm and an ID of about 4.3mm and that there was a central pin as well.  A few hours of quality time with Google and some obscure AV and gaming forums turned up that this type of connector was most likely what is referred to as an EIAJ-05.  And thanks to someone who goes by the online moniker of “Yeggster”, I was able to find the equivalent from several sources (Yeggster's comments) including one available locally at Radio Shack.  So a quick trip to Radio Shack and another $10.50, and I had a 5 Amp DC plug and cable (way oversized) (PN 270048)and a type T tip (PN 273322) that looked pretty close to what came with the TV.  The central pin, which I couldn’t reach with my calipers, looked a little bigger visually, but I thought it was worth a shot. Worst case scenario, I can always return the pieces locally if they don’t work. 

Fortunately for me, everything fit up nicely and the TV works just as before only this time it’s running on 12 volt power.  That will eliminate all of the losses associated with converting the power twice (DC to AC to DC) and help keep consumption to a minimum.  According to Samsung, the unit draws 23W typical, 0.3W on standby and a max of 45W. I’ll pull everything back apart and add a little dielectric grease to the connections and wrap the connection where the tip plugs into the cord with some rescue tape to finish it all up. 
Another advantage to this model monitor is that is that it as the standard VESA mounting holes on the back (75x75), so I can mount it on the bulkhead.  I plan on using a Cheetah Mounts APDAM3B Dual Articulating Arm mount that is rated to hold up to 115 lbs television even though this one only weighs a little over 9 lbs without the stand.  That’s a pretty significant safety margin that should be able to withstand pounding into some pretty heavy seas.

Future plans for the monitor include hooking it up as a second screen for the boat computer which will either be a 12 volt powered mini computer or a laptop as well as possibly a repeater screen for the nav system.  It will also be home to a Chromecast which we should be able to get up running once the next project, an onboard wi-fi network, is completed.

Image 1 You can see the completed plug as well as the mounting holes and the additional connections available on the unit

Image 2 The future home of the unit. Three-quarter of an inch wood screws will hold the mount solidly to the bulkhead

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

did you know

Stumbled across this posting on a tumblr site I follow and couldn't resist sharing with you. Being so young and now undertaking this journey with a baby, we certainly feel the dismay of those around us when we tell them our plan. But we feel it's important that each of us follow our own path. Maybe it's not for you. And that's fine. We don't begrudge you that. It is, however what we feel strongly about. Something we feel we need to do for our own satisfaction. Enjoy. This pretty much says it all.

"Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this."

This. Every single thing about this. It falls in line with our beliefs as travelers and wanderers. This is the life we want to give to our child. A life free from the trappings of things and the need to "fit in" with the norms of our American society. The most interesting people you'll ever meet are the ones who take that leap. Who trust in themselves and the wholeness and beauty of the world surrounding them. Who never, for one second doubt that there is more to living than what society tells us we should want for ourselves. Who experience the culture of others, who nurture a spirit of humanity and soak up every new opportunity given to them. That. That is what living is. We just can't wait to see the world and show it to our little one in this way.

sunday share!

This post is also known as "mistakes were made". This is a cautionary tale. Generally on the Sunday share I want to tell you about an awesome or helpful upgrade project we've done. This one? Yeah, great theory but mistakes were definitely made. 

Back story: I regularly clean the cabin sole (floor of the cabin) since we have a dog who sheds profusely. And I am not kidding when I say PROFUSELY. When I clean the floor, I start by vacuuming (we have a long runner rug and a few doormat rugs) then follow with hand-wiping with Simple Green and a rag then sometimes taking a pass at it with another rag and some Old English Lemon Oil. This makes the floor shine but also causes a certain slippery-ness. I also include the companionway stairs when I do this routine, so you can imagine that with bare feet or low-tread shoes, coming down those steps can be a little dangerous. Actually, even between cleanings when you come down them with damp feet they can be treacherous. In addition to having no texture besides varnished and sealed wood texture, they are also very steep. 

And then I had a brilliant idea. Treads! I've seen them on countless production boats so I assumed they'd fix our problem. They did, but we made a few errors in the process. Josh was able purchase a 6 pack of adhesive treads for just such a use. I cleaned the steps and set about applying them (peeling the backing and centering them on the steps. Josh thought maybe we should wrap them around the forward edge of each of the steps (see photo) because he was sure we stepped up them we used the surface closest to the edge more than the middle depth of each stair. Okay, so I did that. Everything seemed fine until we decided to actually come down them. Did I mention that these stairs are notoriously steep? And that the overhang from one down to the next is pretty narrow? It is. And this means that when you walk down them in shorts, you catch the back of your leg on the sandpaper-like surface and scrape your leg. Not only scrape it, we are talking break the skin abrasion. Like it leaves a mark and you bleed down the back of your calf. Or your thigh if you lean up against them when you're trying to reach a particularly unreachable cabinet space. Ta-da! So lesson is this. DO NOT WRAP THE TREAD AROUND THE FRONT SURFACE OF EACH STEP. If we hadn't done that, these treads would have been a no-brainer home run. As they are, we'll keep them and develop tough calf skin until they need replacing and never make the same mistake again.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

sunday share.

This week brought us to the beginning of July and that meant we needed to make sure all our boat registration and documentation was up to date. When we purchased Interlude, we registered her to have her home port in Racine for tax purposes. Since she's a coast guard documented vessel, this means her hull should have her name and home port on the hull, 4 inches tall and clearly visible. Oops. Up until now, her hull has been emblazoned with Park Ridge IL as her home port (and not even in 4 inch type). 

Last week I ordered the decals from Boat US with the new home port city and when we went up, we applied the new ones. First though, we had to remove the old location (which was painted on). We scoured the internet for advice and found that a solvent and a rag should do the trick, albeit slowly. Acetone is a good option because it won't damage the gel coat and dries very quickly. Luckily we had some acetone on hand and plenty of rags to get us started. Oy! It was slow going. I spent 15 minutes working on one letter with little progress being made. At this rate, it'd take all day! Meanwhile, Josh taped a piece of brown paper bag to the letters on his end and was dampening it over and over with acetone in hopes that it'd loosen the paint and would rub off easier. Josh, the smarty pants he is, thought maybe a scrubber might work and sure enough, it turned our interminable affair into a blink of an eye's worth of effort. 

Once one side was completed, we turned the boat around in the slip so we could get at the other side. It took 30 minutes to clean off both sides, tops. 

Then came the application of the new home port. The instructions were very simple--wipe the surface clean with glass cleaner, put masking tape on either end of the decal (before removing the backing), line it up, put a strip of masking tape down the middle once it's where you want it to be, peel the backing one end at a time, and press down using the squeegee provided. Then repeat with the other end of the decal. Voila! Repeat on the other side. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

sunday share.

Finally back on the Sunday sharing project I started months ago. Oops! Sorry about falling off the earth with it!

This one is a quick little d.i.y. for convenience and comfort on passages where the waves are less than optimal for eating. Basically what we're doing is giving the bottom of our dishes a non-skid surface to keep them from sliding across the table while we're trying to down our breakfast.

You need plates, bowls (we have the melamine kind but any kind should work), food grade caulk (get the kitchen kind), a caulk gun, and wax paper.

Turn all your plates and bowls over so bottoms are facing up. Lay out some wax paper (enough to fit all your plates and bowls). Fire up your caulk gun and run a bead around the rim on the bottom of the dishes. I was a little messy and didn't exactly keep a nice smooth line but you get the idea. Once you've got the bead along the bottoms of all of them, flip them over so they're bottoms down (the idea is to flatten out the bead so it'll sit level when you go to use the dishes) on the wax paper. Then you leave them to sit and dry. Once the caulk is clear and no longer white, the dishes are ready to use. I hand wash ours and have used them in the microwave with no issues. Easy peasy and makes eating underway much more comfortable!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

long time gone.

It was a long, cold winter here in the midwest. Lots and lots of snow and plenty of frigid temps keeping us huddled inside around the radiator. But I am happy to announce, it seems to be behind us? It's still not exactly summer here in Chicago but we'll take it. Especially since we were finally able to put Interlude back in the water! Yep, finally we are afloat and back at Reef Point Marina. Unfortunately, Larsen is still being pains in our rears regarding the fixing of the chainplates so that issue is still outstanding. Supposedly they'll come sometime this summer to measure and then haul her out once the chainplates have been fabricated and are ready for installation (most likely at the end of the season). But in the meantime, we have some big news to share...

There is about to be a baby onboard the Allen boat. Initially we had hoped to shove off and head to the Caribbean this August, but were pleasantly surprised right before Christmas when I found I was expecting our first baby! After years of trying and finally making peace that it just wasn't going to happen for us, SURPRISE of a lifetime,  we are a mere 11 weeks from the birth of our baby (we're waiting to find out the sex until the birth). Needless to say, since I am due in August, our date of departure has been pushed a year. It's an exciting new aspect to our plans and we couldn't be more thrilled. 

For now, it's baby bump on board, which is, in itself, providing a whole new set of exciting and exhausting challenges (like changing sheets in the v-berth and closing the head door once I'm inside). I'll try to be better about updating the blog on how being a big-bellied lady aboard a sailboat is full of adventure and keep you abreast of all the projects we're doing this season ahead of our summer 2015 departure (you know, while we still have the time and free hands to do them before baby arrives).  

Here are a few photos from this weekend of Interlude and one of the growing belly :-)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

geek out, sailor style.

We attended Strictly Sail Chicago last weekend as we have in years past and this year was even better than the last. Seems like every year they raise the bar with the vendors and speakers they invite and man, oh man, I have NO idea how they are possibly going to top themselves next year.

When Josh decided more than 10 years ago that he wanted to sail, after the usual course of action of learning as much as he could from a practical standpoint (barring actually getting out on a boat since sailing is not a huge hobby in our area along the Mississippi River), he found some memoirs about sailing.  One of the very first, and one that cemented his desire to do more than just learn how to sail, was "Cruising in Seraffyn" by Lin and Larry Pardey. He then gave it to me to read. Let me tell you, I couldn't put it down. After that, I too was sold.

Lin and Larry were adventurous and practical and frugal and dead set on doing things their way. And you know what? 48 years and 11 books later they did it. They blazed a trail for all of those who have our eyes set on doing exactly what they did (albeit we're doing it with an engine and a few electronics on our boat) and saw the world from a perspective that most people could never imagine. Back when they began voyaging, the world was quite a different place--still rather wild and "untamed". And they loved every challenging minute about it. Even if you're not all about sailing, I still highly recommend "Cruising in Seraffyn". They are widely considered to be experts on long-term cruising and we have almost all of their books which are immeasurably helpful and practical volumes all about how to do everything from provision to how to budget to how to deal with storms.

So, the whole build up here is to say that Lin and Larry Pardey were presenters at Strictly Sail Chicago this year (previously, it had been 9 years since they had been there) and not only did we sit in on both of the seminars they gave on Saturday, but we also got to hang out with them. SQUEE!!! We invited them to dinner but unfortunately they were exhausted with the excitement of the day but invited us to hang out at their booth while they signed books and talked to convention-goers. We chatted with both of them about our lives and goals and dreams, and I am happy to report they are the most down to earth people and supportive people we've met in the sailing community. They were very encouraging towards our desire to set out and see the world at such a young age and they gave us lots of recommendations for further reading and weather predicting (also, side note: we sat in on a super awesome and informative weather seminar put on by Lee Chesneau later in the day and now I am geekily excited about learning how to predict weather!). One of the things that really stuck with me about them is that they said that there is ALWAYS going to be someone who doesn't want you to live your adventure (whatever it is)--whether it be your boss, who doesn't want to have to train someone to take over your job, or your kids who don't want you to be far away for so long. The trick is to listen to yourself. What/who is stopping YOU from having your adventure? Let it start today.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

in for winter.

It's only about 60 days until I'll have some sea-bound adventures for you since winter is now smothering us with inches upon inches of snow. There have also been a few other big changes going on with us, but that's another day and another post.

Our beloved Interlude has been sitting cozily amongst friends in a boatyard just across the river from Reef Point Marina. We dropped and stowed sails, tidied the cabin, and emptied the water tank before motoring over to Pugh's boatyard at the end of October. We had to wait a bit, as the weather was less than jolly (hello, autumn!) but eventually we got to see the big old crane (technical name, as you can guess) slide these wide straps under her keel and hoist her out of the water. It was actually pretty cool. Josh was geeking out too. They pressure washed her hull and set her on a cradle where she'll stay until April. A few weeks later we tarped her so we could still climb aboard and get on and below deck.

After the first of the year we went back up to check on our tarp job which I'm sad to say was less than stellar. If we were planning on sticking around here much longer I think we might seriously consider a custom canvas cover. We needed to get batteries so we can trickle charge them until we get ready to launch. Josh bought a charger and we bundled up and went to get the oh-so-heavy batteries and I lowered them over the lifelines so Josh could carry them down the ladder. It was slightly treacherous as the snow had been melting and freezing for quite some time and both of us wiped out as we were carrying things back and forth to the car. All in all, it only took about 4 hours before we were thawing in the car on our way home. Successful outing, indeed. Next up is getting Larsen to fix the chain plates before launch and we are set!