Monthly Archives: July 2011

Driving to Minneapolis, blacksmithing exposition, mummies

Driving to Minneapolis, blacksmithing exposition, mummies

Yesterday Jaxon, Willow, Mark, Ellen and I drove to Minneapolis to visit Ellen’s sister Susan and her daughter Madison. For a couple of months we had been planning this trip, but our schedules never overlapped. Finally we made it up here. On our way up we stopped in Wasau for a blacksmithing and woodworking exposition, which was awesome. Willow is into blacksmithing and Mark and Ellen wanted to surprise her by going to this museum. I was a little incredulous at the begining but it turned out to be really fun! Especially the axe collection from the 16th plus century.

When we got to Minneapolis we went directly to the King Tut exposition, Susan had gotten tickets for all of us. We loved the exposition! Jax and I love history-related expositions at museums so we made sure we read every single information plate, it took us almost two hours and we were the last ones of the group to leave. After that we headed to Susan’s house for a cook out, and then Jax and I went to visit our friend Morgan for a couple of hours. It was long but fun day.

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Homeward bound

Homeward bound

After the last meeting with the owners this morning, we were finally feeling like the boat is ours. A pretty exciting concept really:P

So, what was our logical next step?  Unload Manilejo’s hefty cargo into Kate’s cabin of course. Manilejo has been overflowing with a combination of boxes marked “stuff for boat”, tools, work clothes, has full Trader Joe’s bags and lots of junk. One last trip to visit Kate in her storage shed and Manilejo was left with only a few tools and a tarp inside. Not only was this our initial goal in bringing all the supplies over in the first place, but finally emptying him out also gave us enough space to pack up the 9 sails that we won’t be using right off the bat. These will end up in “deep storage” at my parents’ place for a while…. shhhh though, they don’t know yet… this is strictly confidential between me, Caye and the only guaranteed readers we have – my paren… woops ;-)

So, Manilejo was unpacked and repacked, then back on the road to get to my parents’ for dinner – another 3 hours on the road. Woohoo! Just after leaving my uncle and aunt’s, we realized we actually needed a snack. We had been eyeballing the Shipwrecked Bar and Grill in Egg Harbor each time we passed through and this time we decided it would be our snacking location. This turned out to be a great choice because just as we were finishing our meal and I was finishing my description of a new idea I had for running hot water onboard, our table neighbor turned around, introduced himself and said that he couldn’t help but overhear our conversation and “what kind of boat did we have”.

Dave, as it turns out, had just pulled into the marina two hours prior – arriving from Escanaba, Michigan. The three of us chatted for a while, then we went to take a look at his boat, an Albin 25. The Albins are Swedish all-purpose trawlers or motorsailers and have a large and loyal following all over the world. Dave spent the last 3 years working on this one and sailing it during the summers. He actually trailers it up from Arizona every Spring and sails the great lakes until fall, when he trailers it back to Arizona – tough life hugh? Either way, meeting Dave was great and his boat was super quirky and fun. He’s been singlehanding the whole time and really seemed like he enjoyed the lifestyle. We’re definitely hoping to see him again down the road, although our most likely opportunity is this next month and a half – after that, we will be headed down the Mississippi and not likely to do much Great Lakes cruising for a long time – not in our boat anyway. Either way, great meeting you Dave.

 

Bill of sale… check! Registration questions.

Today was the last potential point to loose our momentum on actually gaining ownership of Kate. annnnnd…. we didn’t:)

Caye and I were up at 6:30ish (pretty standard for us – give/take an hour) and around 7:20 I spent a full 4o minutes talking to our new good friend Jennifer at the Madison DNR headquarters. The conversation was great and between the two phone calls yesterday, hours of research last night, scouring the boat for any type of registration and conversations with the last owners, I had more than enough questions and answers to get through a huge amount of the “footwork” involved in finding our way through this maze of legally transferring ownership of the boat. Just for kicks, here are the general complicating factors:

  • The boat was sold from an aunt to the current owners a decade ago, but no transfer of State Registration was ever performed – the registration just kept getting renewed under the old name.
  • The boat has Federal Documentation – a totally separate/parallel registration that operates only at the national level. So, already we need to deal with two totally different government offices to transfer ownership – one state (DNR) and one federal (Coast Guard).
  • Federal Documentation and a state title are mutually exclusive – so the boat has no title. It was likely destroyed or sent in when the boat was documented in the 1970s.
  • The Certificate of Documentation that should serve as a de facto title is not around – aka, one of the 4 family members that owned or partially owned this boat at one time misplaced/misfiled it.
  • The last time the boat was actually re-documented was in 1984
  • The boat is Federally Documented to a deceased family member
  • The Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center currently is processing applications (of any kind) received on May 25 – ie they have a two month backlog.
  • The only way to register the boat in WI without a title or Certificate of Documentation is to show some kind of official document from the aforementioned National Vessel Documention Center – ie wait 2 months to put Kate in the water.

On the positive side:

  • The family is great and now that we have met them face-to-face a couple times, communication is moving quickly and easily
  • The boat was registered in WI up until 2008, which makes proving past “chain of ownership” to the Coast Guard reasonably easy.

Keeping all of the above in mind, here is what the long phone call to the DNR turned up – we do need to wait 2 months to get the proper documents from the USCG, that we NEED in order to do anything with the state registration, BUT and this is the big, super positive, make my day but…. we can register the boat to my name right away and having temporary and totally legal registration, with a pending application until the USCG documents arrive!!!! Here’s the real kicker, there is an online form and checkout for this that takes about 5 minutes and gives you the temporary registration right at your computer!

 

Progress towards legit boat ownership

Progress towards legit boat ownership

Okay, so Caye left off with a nice evening with Charlie and Susan and another missed date with the boat owner. Today, we woke up committed to finding the owner, getting a bill of sale and picking up the sails. Knowing that this was our last full day here, after a week of work and coordination failures, we really wanted to make this happen – and it did! We met up with the owner and his son, who was the joint owner and main sailor of the boat it turned out. The meeting was great and we had a great time chatting with the father, son and family. They seemed to be having a great vacation and were supportive of our plans and seemed happy that the boat would be continuing her adventures with us. In particular, we chatted with the son a lot, as he had done more sailing on the boat then anyone else and had lots of good tips and ideas about her.

After chatting, we loaded up the 10 sails that went with the boat, a light-ish Danforth anchor (pivoting goofy looking thing) and the auto-tiller. We knew that a lot of sails were going included with the boat, but we had pretty much written off any ground tackle (anchors) and the auto-pilot/tiller – as both can easily be moved from boat to boat and thus were likely to be in use on the owners’ new boat. The inclusion of these was a super nice surprise and another really wonderful act of generosity from this family. Thanks guys!

We also chatted about registration, titles and federal documentation for a while. Turns out that, as we were kind of expecting, no one in the family has the Certificate of Documentation (essentially a title for boats registered federally, rather than with the state DNR). Buying a boat without that certificate is a bit like buying a car with a missing title – generally a bad idea, unless you have a really good/trusting relationship with the previous owners, which at this point, we were definitely feeling. So my homework tonight is to figure out what we need to do to transfer the Documentation and what we need to do at the state level as well. I’ve already spent 45 minutes on the phone with the DNR and Coast Guard and am starting to get an idea of what is involved and what the timeline will look like, but I have a whole lot to figure out still. What I’ve seen so far is not encouraging though – a two month backlog at the Coast Guard Documentation Center…. :(

(update) just finished 2.5 hours of research and have lots of new info and questions about boat registration. I am calling the Coast Guard and DNR tomorrow morning to ask some more questions, then headed back over to the owners’ place to get bills of sale filled out and any other last minute stuff. !!!!

Sailing Charlie’s 19 footer VaLaura and waiting for the call

Sailing Charlie’s 19 footer VaLaura and waiting for the call

The drive down with Susan was great. When we arrived to Charlie’s office, also a marina and boatyard, and we found Charlie and his staff laughing nervously. They apparently had escaped tragedy when putting  VaLaura in the water. VaLaura is a Cape Dory Typhoon, a very cute boat with a full keel. Somewhere, Charlie had read that this type of boat was sometimes launched from a hook located in the middle of the boat, right before the companion way. Because the boat weight less than a ton, Charlie and his crew decided to lift it with a mast stepping crane. The plan was set, and then trouble began. The crane had to attempt several times before lifting the boat. Once the boat was in the air it was obvious that it was not balance and the bow started to pull the weight. Long story short, Charlie’s landlady and boat yard owner best known as, screaming Shelia, not by Charlie, saw this and went right to where they were and started …. she later printed a photo of how the typhoon looked in the air and gave it to Charlie so that he would never do that mistake again! it was pretty funny.

Anyway after a number of laughs, Sam, one of Charlie’s employees and a good sailor, Charlie and Jaxon worked on stepping the mast and rigging. Then we took VaLaura for a sail.

After a good 30 min of sailing Jax and I drove to Egg Harbor to wait for the boat owner’s call, which never arrived! at around 6pm we headed home and had an excellent dinner with Charlie and Susan, followed by drinking a bottle of wine and looking at old photos from their cruising years. Pretty cool stuff!

Tuesday! potential delay on the horizon

Tuesday! potential delay on the horizon

Our attempt to have a fluid conversation with the boat owner has, in a way failed. See, this week for him is his one-week vacation with his family, for us this week is when we start preparing for our Mississippi trip in early fall. Our schedules are not quite synchronized which means that we have not yet paid for the boat or have a title for it. We do not even know if he has a title for it! which makes matters worse, because he is leaving the area Wednesday, yes tomorrow!! and if he has no title this might delay our plans by potentially a lot! Not owning the boat also puts us in a tricky situation after having had invested money and time in getting her to a sail-able condition. Charlie and Jaxon are convinced that it is very unlikely that the boat owner would backup from the deal, I on the other hand, am not that content with the situation. But I have also communicated very little with the owner, so I don’t really know what his situation is like.

So today we went to two other hardware stores to look for the valves! and decided to get a brass material valves at the end. We then went back to the boat and arranged everything so that it’s ready to go in the water anytime!

At around noon the boat owner called and said we would meet at 3:30pm! which was great!! So now we are going to head back to Charlie and Susan’s, leave our car there and drive down with Susan to Sturgeon Bay to meet Charlie and his new boat VaLaura! and take it for a sail. After that we will borrow Charlie’s ban and meet the boat owner at around 4:00pm. Off course this is all the tentative plan!

Monday in Milwaukee

Monday in Milwaukee

Have I mentioned how I feel about all the driving we’ve been doing…? Yep, I have..

Our visit to the Milwaukee Dept. of Homeland Security office was quick and painless. Caye needed to get her biometrics done. We were there right on time, waited 1/2 an our to be seen and the actual appointment only took about 10 minutes after that. So, +1 for efficiency, but -1 for the 6 televisions in the waiting room all playing CNN – yuck. No magazines, immigration literature, childrens’ toys – nothing but CNfrickingN. Could have been worse I guess..

After the 8am appointment, we did some hardware and grocery shopping. We had a nice long list of mostly plumbing-related hardware needed pre-launch for the boat and some healthy-ish snack food items that we wanted for a stash in the car (I will NEVER eat gas station chips again;-). The hardware shopping didn’t go great – no one had the giant ball valves we needed for the Ranger 28′s thruhulls (more on that later) and without those chosen, we could not determine the related sizes of most of the other items on our to-do list. We did leave with some PEX tubing and Sharkbite fittings to replace the nasty fresh water lines running from our 25? gallon tank to the galley and head sinks. The drain hoses also need replacing, but amazingly, also cannot be chosen until the thru-hull fittings are found and measured.

Our “healthy snack” ended up being roasted garlic humus, a loaf of bread, deep fried plantain slices(se llaman “chifles”), carrot juice, 2 “build-your-own” 6-packs of assorted beer and 4 bottles of wine… and a 6-pack “La Playa” canned beer. Sidenote – I NEVER buy beer in cans. It just never comes up – BUT “La Playa” was just so… so perfectly old-school and cheap – I could not resist. The funny thing is, I also bought a 12-pack of Blatz(?) later today – as a trade for a half-gallon of $200/can bottom paint. Beer beer beer…

After finally making it back up to Door County, we headed back to the boat – swapped the battery charger to the other battery, changed the fan position to ventilate another part of the boat and headed back to Charlie and Susan’s to help out with dinner preparation and a bit of lawn mowing (something that felt wonderful after all the sitting I had been doing).

Domingo! cleaning and working on our R28

Domingo! cleaning and working on our R28

Our Sunday started out with some excellent conversations with Susan and Charlie! they are really fantastic people and we feel so blessed to have them help us with the boat so much and also let us stay at their place until our R 28 is launched. After a couple hours of talking we crossed the peninsula to “Nelson’s Shopping Center” which is located in Baileys Harbor, exactly across from where Charlie and Susan’s house is. Here, I bought biodegradable, lavender scent, Meyers cleaning supplies and Jaxon looked for the valve and hose we need for the thru holes of the cockpit. My shopping was successful, his not so much. On our way back to Building 12, where R 28 is store at, we stopped at Yacht Works’ marine shop to see if they had any of the fittings, but we had no luck. So, we went back to the R 28 with nothing to solve our pluming problems.

As I opened the door of Building 12 I could smell the toxic scent of the paint, which immediately gave me a stomach ache. I can’t imagine what this toxins mean for the ocean! it is hard to believe that better alternative do not exist in a meaningful way! I feel guilty of being part of this ongoing system of poisoning the ocean for our own satisfaction! The smell also made me consider those whose day job constantly involve being exposed to such poisons! with very little protection our insurance. The world is a weird place!

Anyway, going back to the boat. We epoxied the rudder and some dents that the hull had. We emptied the cabin and did an extensive cleaning of the benches, head, galley, head, v-berth and anythings else that was in the boat. Then we finished painting the hull. At around 7pm we went back to Charlie and Susan’s grabbed Mochila and headed to Milwaukee! to Tristan and Carolyn’s for the the night. At 8am I have a biometrics exam for our visa process! hope it all goes well.

Chisels, epoxy and paint… too much driving

Chisels, epoxy and paint… too much driving

After our early morning motorcycle work and some last minute cleaning up, we headed back up to Door County for our open-ended stay that would hopefully be the final step in the wildly ambiguous process of actually transferring ownership of our “new boat”. As much as we “love” Manilejo, our Volvo, and enjoy traveling – we are SO done with driiiiiiving. It honestly feels like we have spent more time in cars, than out over the past 1.5 weeks. We always mange to make the best of it and have listened to a lot of great TED talks – but we are feeling really really ready to be locked into a schedule dictated by the weather not by boat shopping and moving our joint belongings between residences.

Between the totally insane task of packing our apartment and the 2000+ miles we’ve put on recently – lifestyle minimalism has become a running theme our daily conversations.

All of that said – our car was yet again, totally packed with thousands of widgets and we were driving a 150 miles – yay! This time though, the stuff was moderately important and we were working on preparing the boat as a new home – a new minimalistic home that is ;-)

We got in around 1pm and went to visit the boat again with my uncle shortly thereafter. This was a beautifully productive visit. We spent quite a while examining the two parts of the hull that had some damage from poorly set jack stands (the big stands that are positioned around a dry-docked boat), the “wet” deck core and the thru-hulls and thru-hull fittings. All in all, we came out with good news in each area and all signs point to a launch date in the near future.

After this visual review, we applied some epoxy to keel-hull seam and a that my uncle chiseled into the rudder to eliminate some junky fiberglass. The epoxy needed to set up for a bit after that – so, we headed back to my uncle and aunt’s place for a great dinner, followed immediately by a trip back to the boat for a long night of preparative work.

We are now back at my uncle and aunts – and completely burned out. We managed to get a good thick layer of paint below the boot-top (the paint stripe that generally sits right at the waterline and a quick coat over all the areas that where the bottom paint was gone and the gellcoat was visible.  This approach gives us a good canvas for tomorrow’s paint work. After tomorrow, we will essentially have 2 coats on the whole hull and three over the 24 inches just below the boot-top – the reason for three there is simply that this area will be seen whenever the boat is heeled over and thus, folks like to have a strong coat there to make sure the boat continues to look fast for the whole season *eye roll*… With the splotches of paint all over the hull as it is, this R28 looks everything but fast… which seems about perfect to me:)

Stay tuned..

 

No more motorcycle maintenance – (Kawasaki Ninja 250 for sale)

Today started out with some motorcycle work at my parents’ place. Stuck the new battery in and took the Ninja 250 for a quick test ride. The new battery did not solve the mystery unfortunately, but the bike continues to run great – just never over 60mph. My motorcycle troubleshooting energy/skills are now exhausted and I am just going to sell it as is. Pulled and cleaned the carbs, changed the oil, changed the fuel filter, replaced a kinked fuel line, cleaned and re-oiled the air filters, removed and emptied the gas tank, etc. With each bit of maintenance, the bike ran better – but that progression plateaued eventually, with the bike running great right up to 60mph…. and no higher.

So, I’ll be reposting to Craigslist “as-is” and I imagine finding a buyer still won’t be all that difficult.

Anyone interested? $700 or best offer ;-)

A day before we take off to our Ranger 28

A day before we take off to our Ranger 28

Today was a busy day! but it feels great to get a lot done. Having guests at the house the whole week was great but it also meant that we did not get as much done as we wished to… so today we tried to do it all! We re-packed the car so that we would take only what we would need immediately, such as a little bit of food, cloths, kitchen utensils and sheets for the v-berth. Our tentative plan is to have the boat in the water by Tuesday, which would give us a couple days living aboard before we have to take off to Minneapolis.

As I was moving boxes up and down to our room at Ellen and Mark’s, Jaxon was working super hard on making sure our car worked perfectly for the trip and his motorcycle was ready to be sold. One of the big projects in car, was a fuel filter replacement job! after a couple hours hard at work Jax realized that he was going to need an impact wrench to get the filter out! which meant he wasn’t able to finish the job!!!

At about four we went to pickup a solar panel from PV Systems, an awesome local photovoltaic system business ran by a friend of the family. Jaxon had gotten a $100 gift certificate from him for his graduation so we used that plus another $200 + to buy a new 135v panel for the boat.

Mark surprised us with an excellent dinner at around 7pm, which justified a short break and then soon after we went back to work. We need to leave the Klein-Davis household by 9am tomorrow.

Eating well, working and chillaxing

Eating well, working and chillaxing

Our Thursday started out with a farewell breakfast at Cafe 27 in Steven’s Point where Norah works. We eat amazing food and had some excellent conversations. After breakfast, Jax and I went with Willow and Falaq to the pet store to get a collar for their miniature dog, Puchini, and soon realized that the store also had Humane Society cats up for adoption, they were adorable.

Then Jax and I came back to Ellen and Mark’s house to work. Michael, Rashmee and Falaq left to Milwaukee at about noon. After our regular job, we worked on cleaning up the last things we have lying around the Klein, Davis household. The day ended with a great dinner with Mark and Ellen, followed by banana split, with Ellen’s chocolate sauce, a movie, The Big Chill, and some Mochila time.

Bowling in Almond WI

Bowling in Almond WI

Wow, this has been an interesting week! and it’s no over yet. So after work, dinner, swimming in the lake and spending time with the guests, we were invited to go bowling. I can only say  one thing wow! yep, and I can’t say much more. We had a lot of fun with friends there and the scenery was spectacular! I decided not to bowl and just take pictures…

Thinking about heads/toilets for the Ranger 28

Let me just start this one out by telling you all that we are SO STUPIDLY EXCITED about getting our Ranger 28. We will be in Door County, WI early Saturday to meet the owner, pay and search for any accessories and the dozen plus sails in his attic. WOW, this is happening! We have been talking about it since the day we met and it is happening now – right on schedule – three years later:)

Assuming all goes to plan (which typically would be an odd assumption, but seems to be pretty realistic right now), we will be spending Tuesday night on the boat and potentially 2-3 more nights after that. You might be wondering, is the boat ready for them? Are they ready for the boat? Well, so are we.. Here’s one thing we know we still need to figure out though – we are going to need a head (toilet) if we plan to spend any number of days, nights or hours on the boat next week.

The lack of installed head on this boat is definitely the biggest giveaway that the past owners did not live aboard this Ranger, but rater were much more focused on the racer half of “cruiser-racer“. Not only did they not have a head, but my guess is that the whole cabin really hasn’t seen too much use over the years. All the action was abovedecks as it were. Good news overall, simply because it means the interior has very little wear and tear. Bad news because there are a few obvious livability omissions that would have been taken care of 35 years ago, if this Ranger 28 was a live aboard at all – like the lack of a head.

So, we have been searching and researching marine heads, but definitely started out the process with a bias. That bias was that we were both pretty partial to idea of composting heads. The concept seems ideal from nearly every perspective and aligns quite directly with our goal of exploring liveaboard sailing as an affordable and sustainable means to explore the world and productive world citizens while doing it. All that said, the KEY for us is that we need living aboard to add as little excess stress to our lives as possible. Not splashy buckets or pails, no portapotties underneath the v-berth, and most of all no marine toilet plumbing. I have just enough plumbing competency to fix or install things occasionally -in fact,  just enough to know that I want to do as little of the toilet-related type as possible. Composting toilets/heads come with all there own baggage of course, but they do not come with plumbing or “pump-outs” and those are really big pluses in our book.

The world of composting toilets is rather big now. There are huge expensive models with electronics, heaters, fans everywhere, etc., super simple units and of course the multitude of DIY models – many of which are made from 5-gallon buckets. Virtually none of these will work for our space and needs. The main limiting factors are either large size or lack of integrated ventilation. And that leads us to Composting Marine Heads, like Airhead and Nature’s Head. Designed and sold by sailboat owners/users, these super-compact units are carefully planned and replanned to meet the needs of folks staying or living on small boats – Great!

I won’t go through all the details now, but suffice it to say that we ended up ordering the Airhead today and are really excited to get it shipped and installed. Keep tuned for more details and installation and usage notes

Sailing from Illinois, Chicago to the Gulf

Sailing from Illinois, Chicago to the Gulf

So as the days pass, Jax and I have been doing more research on the basics of sailing from Chicago down the Mississippi to the gulf! This post is going to be purely informative for other people who are thinking of taking our same journey. Of course these following facts are only from the small research we have done so far.

So the basic route for a small sailboat is:

Chicago/Calumet River, Ship Canal, Illinois River, Mississippi River, Ohio River, through Kentucky Lake and than the Tennessee River to the Tombigee (Tenntom) water way, which leads to Mobile Bay and then the Gulf of Mexico or the inter-costal in the Florida Pan Handle.

The picture below includes all possible ways to do the “Great Loop”. In this post I’m mainly talking about the purple section, right until it reaches the Gulf. One of the purple lines goes down the Mississippi but it is recommended that small boats take the Ohio river. Other than southern Mississippi not being small-boat friendly it also has very desolated areas where you could get stuck with no places to buy gas, food or stock up on water.

One guy in the sailnet forum explained that a great flood in the 1920′s shifted the course of the river which led to the desolation of some of the port towns in the south due to lack of business. This was followed by the depression, which did not help. His theory is that since then many of these places have not recuperated. True or not it is worth exploring the history of the river. Something we will take on after learning more about the actual sailing part of it.

 

To learn more about the Tennessee-Tombigee water way I have included a link to their site. http://tenntom.org/

Something to consider is that if your mast is taller than 19 feet you’ll need to un-step the mast (take it down). Apparently, many people send their mast to Mobile by truck. We think we’ll un-step it on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, where the bridge is located and then step it at the other side. To learn more about bridge clearance along the way visit this site. http://www2.mvr.usace.army.mil/bridge_clearance/bridge_clearance.cfm

The trip apparently only takes about 3 weeks.

Things you’ll need are: a good motor, at least 2 good anchors and a long stout. This is of course not based on experience but rather research.

 

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