I have a laptop once again, and one that may be better overall for all the editing of videos and music that I will need to be doing while on the journey. It still feels a little unbelievable that we could be embarking by the end of next month. After close to three weeks of having no laptop to write with, it will be a slight effort to get back into the routine. So many things have gotten a little closer to being ready that it would be impossible to list them all. The new toilet is installed in the head, though we are still waiting on a waste storage tank to plumb her in. I have been varnishing a lot recently, an inexpensive way to kill time and make the boat look better by ten fold. The engine is all but properly tested (I was recommended to run it under a load, here at the slip, for six hours to ensure that there aren’t any surprises later on). The whisker pole, which had a jammed and corroded pin, is finally mounted on the deck once again. My van had a pivot joint that rusted beyond operability in the dense foggy climate, and so had to be disassembled and repaired. I took off the cover to the water tank, cleaned and inspected it. Potentially some cracks, but don’t think that it is leaking. There is a bit of standing water in the bilge, but from all I can determine it is from the melting Ice in the ice box that is failing to discharge into the aft bilge, and instead seeping through the wood more forward. I still hate electronics, but was able to wire in the two batteries that we got from my ranching friend, Wayne. I have yet to discover why the compressor for the refrigeration system on board is not operable, but maybe with a little time chasing wires I’ll be able to figure it out.
There are a few more crucial things to fix before setting off, most importantly being the backing plates to the keel which are all but corroded into a solid mass of Fe 2+ and Fe 3+. We are going to have a guy on board to take a look who knows metal, an artistic welder type, but I think from the core j-bolts being charcoal grey we may have some structural integrity issues with the keel staying on the boat. The ballast of the boat, which balances the sails, is about 8200 lbs, a large majority of which being the lead keel bolted to the bottom of the boat of which we are speaking. You can look up pictures and videos of what happens when a keel falls of, but the short story is that the boat capsizes immediately. Perhaps this is the reason that many sailors would think myself a little on the crazy side for taking this boat into the gulf. The good news is that there is not a constant seawater leakage into the boat at this point, so the keel is not departing. Everything is stable now, safely in the slip, but as we hit heavy seas and are bouncing about in the gulf, or if we run aground while we are trolling around the cays in Belize, the keel may show it’s weaknesses instantaneously and more or less ruin our day. In order to feel somewhat secure out there we will have our rubber dingy with a dry bag loaded with all of the essentials for open ocean survival, along with an Epirb GPS device. We will also be making amendments to the keel stability by adding additional backing plates in between the old and corroded ones. As well we will be painting some anti corrosion paint on the top of the old backing plates in order to prevent further degradation.
The last couple of weeks I had another guy live aboard in exchange for buying food. He has since left for Cancun, and we are going to try and meet up with him on our way to Belize. Robert apparently has a few properties that he is renting out in Idaho, so has little need to find work, a great person to have on board when your keel falls of in the shallows of Belize. I know for sure that things are going to break as we go along, this boat being over forty years old, and having somebody who would willingly help fund fixing a few things may be crucial to the trip. Robert may be slightly off his rocker, but one think I’m sure of is he has no desire to murder me, he has a good heart.
Since it is a little uncertain how our auto steering system of surgical tubing, pulleys, and line will manage the boat, and in light of the fact that she will still need a watch stander to make sure all is right, I recruited a crew member who was walking the docks one morning. Randy, who knew nothing of sailing until we sailed around the bay recently, is stoked on the plan to sail to Belize. He is currently collecting alimony, and also has no financial obligations. When the seas are rough, and the winds are high, it will be randy and myself who are taking turns at the helm.
Being the captain of a boat is a big responsibility. I am responsible for the knowledge of all parts of the boat. I am the navigator, though I’ve never navigated on the open seas. When we have water coming into a broken through hull, or when the head starts syphoning water, I am the guy who has to come up with the solution to fix it; ever the more so difficult at sea when you have only what you brought. Overall it is my responsibility for everyone’s safety. I made Randy well aware of the potential for calamity with the keel, and the fact that he is still excited for the journey brings light to his willingness to adventure. Probably the most important necessity of crew onboard the flying cloud is their willingness to adventure.
In other news….Trump is ruling as dictator by executive order. All my biologist friends are out of work for the next four years due to Trumps stance on the environment (certainly he will stop funding any research that conflicts with his world view). Oil pipelines will be fast tracked, federal land is going to be leased or sold to petroleum companies, and environmental protections such as the endangered species act are going to be subverted. I think it unlikely that our differences (red and blue, left and right, environmentalist and corporatist) can be resolved without civil war. All the more reason to leave the country via sailboat. At least I have the ability to quickly set up my silks and enjoy some playtime in the sky. I am counting on them to stave off boredom while at anchor in paradise, along with books and guitars of course.