Tag: cabin

Living Aboard a Small Sailboat is Actually Pretty Nice.

It has been only six days mind you, but I am settling into a nice routine. Not that living aboard is something I particularly want to do on a boat that small. I missed a nice weather window today and tomorrow because of a stuck valve on my diesel inboard. Yep, I have identified the problem, but that doesn’t necessarily help me. WD-40 and a bout of slight violence with a screwdriver handle didn’t do any good. Better have a profe$$ional check it out. Bottom line is, it is about traveling, discovering new lands and cultures… I am still at the dock, stuck for lack of finances and mechanical knowledge. One thing I have learned is that anything related to boats moves slowly. You just can’t be in a hurry. I haven’t been contemplating my navel all week though, today was very productive…

Yesterday a guy a couple slips down had a cooler stolen from his boat. I wouldn’t have left a $400 cooler in an open boat (they make $400 coolers?!), but I understand why he might have felt it was safe. My boat has been floating here for a year and a half, the last month with thousands of dollars in equipment, unlocked. The area is (was) supposedly extremely safe. This prompted me to install a lock I had purchased to secure the companionway hatch. Yes, the famous bubble hatch. The forward hatch was another problem. I solved this one with a simple bolt through and a cross bar on the inside; primitive but effective. Now I can lock the boat when away or lock myself inside if need be. It’s not crowbar-proof but it would give someone so equipped a run for their money.

Companionway Hatch Lock

Companionway Hatch Lock

Forward Hatch Crossbar

Forward Hatch Crossbar

Next, I looked at my Optimus two-burner kerosene stove and decided that it was time… Two holes, nuts and bolts later it was hanging in its new home, but leaning backwards… Weird… The stove is supposed to swing the way the boat is leaning so you can cook while sailing. No way a pot is going to stay on at that angle, yet the gimball axes are aligned with the burners. Then I noticed notches at the bottom on each sides. I immediately thought “counter weights!” You can adjust them as the tank empties… Not great, but it will work. A couple fishing weights should do fine. One burner seems to be clogged, one more thing to fix. I think I will buy new burners some time in the future. The Optimus is for serious cooking, not for a cup of tea or hot chocolate. I use a tiny alcohol stove for that. It barely burns more alcohol than required to preheat the kerosene burners, so why bother. Kerosene does smell a bit too. I also haven’t yet gotten a thin sheet of stainless steel to protect the ceiling. See my stove test video, you’ll understand…

Optimus Kerosene Pressure Stove

Optimus Kerosene Pressure Stove

While I had the drill out, boy do I enjoy my solar panels and inverter, I decided to install the fire extinguishers on the bow bulkhead and one near the engine. I am more concerned about the Optimus throwing a tantrum than anything else…

Fire Extinguisher

Fire Extinguisher

I usually get up early, around eight. There is a nice mom-and-pop breakfast place within walking distance. Actually, everything here is within walking distance, including bars, restaurants, post office, boat gear store and supermarket. Wifi is available most places. I use a USB powered special antenna (2W), which seems to work fine, but I prefer to connect at the breakfast place or the restaurant. I have learned to recharge my devices while the sun shines on the solar panels. Doing so at night drains the battery too fast.

I skip lunch, even dinner sometimes, though the restaurant across the water has sushi rolls for $8, and the one behind it has crab cakes, my favorite! Daytime is for boat work, while I can see. Not having a shower on board isn’t so bad since I noticed the hotel nearby has a pool and the showers door is often unlocked. So yes, I sneaked in! I have rented a room there a couple times so I don’t feel too guilty about it. There is another option at $30 per month, but hopefully I won’t be here that long.

The only thing missing are of course are my friends. It has been different since the coffee shop closed, but that didn’t prevent seeing my closest friends and there was also the daily sunset gathering, until now. I don’t know anyone here. So far it hasn’t hit me fully yet, but I know once I leave the Florida coast behind, it will…

Tomorrow I am installing a radio antenna on the stern and running a couple antenna cables back to the cabin. I also need to scrub the deck, but better do that when the sun starts going down. I still have a bit more cleaning to do and put a few things away, where, I don’t know. The boat is really full. By the way I did take a video of my setup, sort of a tour of Dagny, deck and cabin. There has been progress since then, but you’ll get an idea of the size of my living space, what’s left of it. I just edited the file and uploaded it on Youtube. I tried Kdenlive on Linux but it crashes all the time and really isn’t user friendly. Power Director 14 on Windows works great for me, even though I hate Windows. I could only output 480p with the trial version.

The wind vane, this mysterious device that steers the boat using wind power needs to be set-up. Fortunately I have the manual. I know, guys aren’t supposed to do that, but It’s my ass out there, excuse my French…

The next weather window I think probably won’t happen until the 22nd or later. I really wanted to leave much earlier. My engine absolutely needs to be fixed by then, and I want to leave with at least $300 in my pocket, $150 for the Bahamas entry fee. I’ll be working online throughout my trip, so no need to have a big cruising kitty before departure. I have Search & Rescue insurance through Delorme, but will add medical evacuation insurance to that as soon as I can. My forward storage lockers have food and water for forty five days. It’s time to go, I am growing a bit frustrated…

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Cabin Painting Almost Finished!

It was a good four productive days on Dagny. I completed about 60% of the cabin painting with Pettit “Easy Cabin Coat,” a mold and mildew Resistant interior paint. A look at the previousely painted bow section seems to show that the paint works. There was no mold at all on the new paint. The only issue I have with it is that it isn’t mechanically strong. Anything rubbing on the surface will peel the paint right off. If I was to do it again I would first apply Pettit Easy-Poxy and then the Easy Cabin Coat.

The Fusion 1000W pure sinewave inverter powered my orbital sander easily and the solar panels kept the battery full. This inverter however is very RF noisy. I can’t use any of my radios at the same time. You get what you pay for. I also can’t use my laptop with it as the mouse cursor goes crazy. I hope it is the RF noise, and not a bad waveform. I will use it for charging only and run the computer on its battery when working.


I understand now the sailor’s fascination with fans! It felt like 120 degrees inside. I wore just my underwear, and it was still way too hot to stay below for any lenght of time, and not because I was half naked! Now I know how dogs locked in cars on hot days feel like.. Doing nothing laying on a bunk was barely tolerable. As soon as I moved I started sweating. I need to investigate those dorado boxed more closely. There was no wind, so I am not sure they would have helped.

One thing I will have to be aware of is my exposure to the sun. That means long sleeves, pants, and something for my neck and face, if just some sunscreen. I burned my knees this week-end just by being on deck for a little while. It doesn’t take long.

My companionway hatch is all warped because of rain and the failing of the fiberglass I glued on with epoxy. I didn’t have my sander then and sanded by hand, obviousely not well enough. I also suspect the fiberglass/epoxy shrunk, and since it was on the outside only, pulled on the planks. I will build a new one out of marine plywood left overs from my Fafnir project. I am even thinking of including a clear bubble to allow a good look around without having to open the hatch.

Another four-day session at the end of this month should be enough to finish the boat. It is never 100% finished of course, and I know of a few to-do list items I will have to complete under way or at anchor somewhere. I just didn’t want to have any big project going on to spoil my adventure. In the mean time I will probably build the companionway hatch and drop it off in a couple weeks. Rain water finding its way down below during every squall can’t be good.

A guy stopped by to offer his diving services to clean my bottom, uh, the boat’s bottom I mean.. One Dollar per foot, that’s $26 for Dagny. I eagerly handed out my money, also left him a new zinc to put on the propeller shaft. “No extra charge,” just my lucky day. I will have him do it one more time before leaving. My three-bladed prop will be enough of a drag, I don’t need the extra barnacles!

Thanks to Melina and Dave again for helping me getting there and back.

I have such good friends here, it will be very hard to leave them all behind.

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Cabin Painting Progress.

I didn’t get to paint as much as I hoped this week-end. It is amazing how much surface there is to paint inside a boat. I started with the bow and worked my way back. It was hot and cramped in there, not pleasant work, even though I enjoy painting. Worst thing is, I will have to apply a second coat. After the bow and forward storage section, I painted the bunks in grey, as well as the sole forward of the mast. As you can see on the photo, I didn’t get to paint the second bulkhead or the mast. It will probably take three or four more days of painting to finish the interior.

Bow Painting

Bow Painting

The only tasks left to do aside from painting are adding some wiring, including a 12V and USB charging plug, some wiring for radios and a new battery, if I can afford one. The rudder is at my house and needs a bit of painting as well. I really should have some type of stanchions or handholds for safety… I will definitely have lifelines on which to clip a harness tether. The companionway and the forward hatch need some varnishing and locks.

Everything else is adding equipment like a second anchor and rode, VHF radio, sea anchor, wifi antenna, fenders, etc. Finally there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

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