Where the hell have I been?

On June 06, 2012 In Boat, News

As a friend of mine pointed out a lot of my posts tend to be along the lines of “Wow. I haven’t posted here for a while.” so here’s another one. Although arguably it’s not without good reason.

Not last Saturday but the Saturday before (May 26th) I got married to Jeannie (there are a few photos of her on this site already)! So ya. I figure that’s a pretty good reason to be a bit late with this. Some guys may be saying “Pffft. I got married and I had like nothing to do!” ya. Well I decided to take the path less walked (as normal) and discovered a whole new world in stress (oddly normal as well). Since Jeannie was busy with classes and everything I had to do a LOT of the planning for the wedding itself. While this was a really neat experience I can honestly see how being a wedding planner is a very lucrative business. On the other hand I did get to see a whole area usually left to the “women folk” and possibly explain how the phenomena of “bridezilla” comes into being. I won’t go into the details here since it’d end up being one of those “tl;dr” (too long; didn’t read) posts. But ya. Needless to say if anyone is getting married and the person handling most of the planning seems to lose their mind don’t freak out! There are a LOT of little things that are nerve racking for ridiculous reasons and it just sorta gangs up on you! I may do a more lengthy post on our wedding soonish. But I’d prefer to have more photos about that first.

Quick note as well Pathfinder was moved over to TIM and I have yet to put that post up (again busy). Not very exciting fortunately but I wasn’t at the wheel at all this time since I had the stomach flu. So ya. Mostly manning the “rail” if you know what I mean.

Pathfinder makes her way back to TIM

On April 20, 2012 In Boat, Captains Log

This trip I wanted to basically man the wheel the entire way over but the fates conspired against me. I ended up getting the stomach flu only a few days before this move and even on this day I was still hurling over the rail. Fortunately my friend Mitch (who’s got loads and loads of experience with ships) was on hand to do that while I just ran around with my parents and some friends on board to man the lines (while I also manned the rail). The trip went smoothly and this year and our dock was there waiting for us.

View April 20th 2012 in a larger map

This year is we’re going to have a lot of changes on board structurally as we’re doing a lot of finishing work inside via either contractors or our own muscle. More on that to come throughout the year.

I hope to take Pathfinder out more often this year after some crucial work done on the ship itself (running lights, rudder indicator, radio etc). We’re also planning a trip State side to fuel up as well as it’ll cost us maybe $200 in fuel to get there and back but we’ll save at least $1000 in fuel. Plus it’ll be a fun trip!

Momentum and weather

On March 15, 2012 In Boat, News

So ya. I’ve kinda lost some steam with the renos on the boat lately. I find it’s very hard to pick it back up especially with everything going on as of lately (wedding planning, work, weather causing fantastic migraines etc). So nothing lately to report in that area. Even the stuff I have planned isn’t exactly “glamorous” either which may be what I tackle this weekend (through hull fitting, some battery stuff). But whatever. I also have another project I’m trying to get out before the summer season starts so that is also taking my time. I’ll elaborate a bit more when I have something to show for it (hopefully by next week).

New Staircase installed!

On February 27, 2012 In Boat, News

Not this past weekend but the one before we finally got to install a new staircase in the boat down into the cargo hold… This would in fact be the 3rd system put in so far but it is the last. Lets go over the systems I had (sadly I have no photos of them).

  1. The spiral staircase that was originally in the ship. I’ve always wanted a spiral staircase so when I was looking at Pathfinder for purchase it was a major selling feature for me… Until during our trip back with it we discovered how truly terrible undersized and thrown together spiral staircases are. Everyone on the trip ended up sliding down them or nearly through the railings when we hit a wave. Even better was that the top hand rail on it was in fact a plastic tube. Not exactly safe. So we cut that right out first chance we got at TIM and replaced it with…
  2. A very steep stainless steel staircase with narrow steps. This worked out quite well for over a year. Except that it was VERY steep and the steps were a improperly spaced (each step was a bit too far away), so at the end of the day when you walked up and down them a lot your legs and hips were killing you. Also when taking laundry up and down the stairs it was literally like scaling a mountain at times. Which lead us to…
  3. Custom polished stainless steel stringers (a stringer is the side beams of a staircase). These were made out of Barrie Metal and Welding for us after we carefully measured the space it would go into. Once they were completed they stayed at my parents place until we were ready for them on the boat (2 weekends ago). And here they are!

Jeannie’s Christmas gift and Pathfinder joins the 1970’s!

On February 21, 2012 In Boat, News

So as I eluded to in the last post I had been very busy over December and January. What have I been doing? Well when Jeannie came back she saw this in the galley.


Which when unwrapped (as the captions suggest as well) turned into these!

Nice eh? K helped me out a lot with the cleaning and sadly I didn’t take a photo of the rest of the galley since we had put in some new chairs (New to the boat anyways) and organized the starboard side counter. It has REALLY opened up the space in the and it’s quite nice now.

So one might ask what the hell took me so long to install these. Well lets go over the task list of getting all this installed (this is the summarized version as well just to tell ya).

  • Install and hook up the hot water tank
  • Wire up the hot water tank (110Volt)
  • Install the water pump for water pressure (12 Volt)
  • Hook up the tank and pump to the manifolds installed earlier (Centralized water manifolds are WAAAAAY easier to troubleshoot and maintain. All houses should have them.)
  • Hook up the through hull to be used for gray water pump out into the lake
  • Create an anti-siphon valve system (I’ll have to take a photo of this to show everyone the madness of what I ended up building. This is to ensure that if the gray water manages to force out all the air and the 1 way valve breaks for some reason that the lake won’t try to drain into the boat)
  • Attach the pump out pump to the anti-siphon system
  • Attach the pump to the gray water collector tank
  • Curse at European wiring for being backwards and rewire up the sensor to the gray water tank
  • Run waste lines up to where I wanted to install the dishwasher
  • Run a water line to where the dishwasher
  • Run 110Volt power lines with GFI’s to the dishwasher area, hot water tank, fridge and the back of the cabinet so we don’t need to use extension cords.
  • Wire up the dishwasher
  • Try to cut the holes needed in the deck for the waste water, hot and cold water for the sink (this took days alone thanks to the military grade steel I had to try to cut through. I literally destroyed brand new drill bits in this processes. As a side note Milwaukee drillbits are designed to drill through butter and that’s it.)
  • Run all the hoses and pipes needed for the sink.

Ya. That’s the extremely summarized version there. I didn’t even cover all the stuff I had to get out of the way of the pipes just to run them. So ya. FUN.

Anyways life on board has drastically improved with running water alone now and the dishwasher has made everyone in the marina very jealous (BWAHAHAHAHHAHAAHA!). So at least now we have fancy schmancy running water inside the place now.

Next post I’ll post pictures of what we did family day weekend with my parents. I’d make that post today but frankly I forgot to take photos. Awesome eh?

Ship progress

On December 13, 2011 In Boat

So as it turns out I still suck at doing posts on a regular basis. Oh well.

But I do have some fun stuff to talk about. Primarily we’re closing in on having water pressure throughout the boat! Jeannie and I have installed the water pump, manifold to distribute the water, sealed up some leaks around the pipe fittings into our water tanks (Quick note on this. When you get any threaded fitting that says it a certain size realize that if it’s in plastic it’ll be slightly too small and if its metal it’ll be slightly too big. Why is this? Who knows. What’s the solution beyond Teflon tape? Caulking… lots of caulking sealant.). Now we still have to get the gray water system sorted out (gray water is any water from showers or sinks, black water is sewage basically), and then the variety of plumbing between everywhere else and the manifolds and tanks but there ya go.

The other thing we installed was these:

A busy few weeks with a lot of good news

On November 02, 2011 In Boat, Captains Log, News, Uncategorized

Hey all. So a number of things have gone on.

  1. We moved the boat! We’re back at Pier 4 for winter again.
  2. I piloted the ship out of TIM (thanks to Mitch giving me guidance on how to handle the ship) so now I’m no longer called “Swabby” by Dad.
  3. The best news is that on Halloween I asked Jeannie to marry me and she said yes. :D
So now we have to come up with some wedding dates etc around all of our busy schedules, while I’m still working on the boat, and while Jeannie is studying for her exams. Whee! I’m back to being silly busy… Wait… I never stopped being silly busy. Oh well. A change is as good as a rest they say.
Here is a map of our path. I took it out at TIM and headed straight across to Pier 4. Right where there’s the circle is where Mitch took over since the wind was starting to play tricks with us and so I got on the ropes to help creep us along the walls with the ropes (special thanks to Shane as well for helping with the lines despite his hangover from the night before. :P)

View Saturday October 29 2011 in a larger map

After our motor across the harbor and when we tied up Dad gave me an official Pathfinder Captains hat as he had said that I’d only be captain when I had taken it out myself and docked it. Well I didn’t get to dock it but I did undock it and get it almost all the way there myself which is good enough. Next year it’ll be easier to learn since we’ll have proper instruments and what not to help us. And who knows! We might have the wedding party there! Go for a cruise with the families. Time shall tell.

Large boat issues

On October 12, 2011 In Boat

So I haven’t done a posting in a while since I was hoping that the next post I’d do was with a small video of a ribbon cutting ceremony for my new functioning toilet. For the most part the toilet is functional. Right this moment I have one of 2 water tanks partially filled with water, that water goes to a manifold to distribute the water to either the toilet or to a water pump for the rest of the domestic water items (shower, sinks, dishwasher, cloths washer [Yes I’m serious about the last 2 items there… Life is hard when you have space let me tell you!]). The water line for the toilet then goes down nearly 10 feet through a wall, along a pipe channel that’s below where the shower base will be, then to the water pump for the toilet and then from there to the toilet itself. For the waste water from it I have sewage hose going from the back of the toilet, through a 1 way valve (it was attached directly to the toilet itself but space and size constrictions required me to remove that and reattach it just a bit further out from the toilet itself), back to the sewage pipe, out along the pipe channel, through the engine room, up a wall through that wall with a 90 degree elbow, and into a 250 gallon waste tank. FROM the waste tank I even have the pump out hose attached properly from the bottom of the tank, up through the deck to a nice fitting that lays flush on the deck that I had to grind down flat and repaint. I still have to add a vent pipe to the tank itself to let it breath through a charcoal filter but it’s not super urgent right now. ON TOP of all of this I even have all the electrical for the toilet done which required me to do the following (in point form since this post is already getting kinda long):

  1. Rip out all the old wiring from the batteries in the back of the engine room to the power distribution panel up on the pilot house
  2. Replace those wires with 2AWG (translation super heavy duty cables) and run their unflexible selves up to the pilot house
  3. Rewire the distribution panel
  4. Run 6AWG (translation rather heavy duty and still a pain in the ass to run cables) from the terminal points on the panel down through conduit that is barely big enough for them down from the pilot house, through the channel, to a distribution box behind the toilet
  5. In the distribution box attach 2 terminal nuts and 1 40amp fuse.
  6. Attach 1 terminal nut with a wire to the 40 amp fuse (the hot side)
  7. Run wire from the other side of the fuse and the ground terminal nut to a plug system with lower gauge wire into a plug to plug into the computer to run the toilet.
  8. Make the plugs for the water pump.
  9. Plug everything in and check for smoke.
ALL THIS worked as well. So now (about 2 weeks ago) I flushed it. It WORKED! Water went to the waste tank with no issues (Ya. BIG tip here guys. When working on a toilet of any sorts test with clean water a LOT first. Don’t just “Drop it like it’s hot” otherwise if you have issues you’re not just cleaning up water. Fortunately I did just test with water so no gross story to relay.). But a new issue arose.
Apparently the Italians that designed the toilet system assumed that the water tanks for the toilet would be below the toilet itself. Not a bad assumption for 90% of the boats out there. What this assumption does for them is that when the pump pumps it sucks water up and pumps it into the toilet, when it’s done gravity naturally pulls back all the water sitting against the pump itself. In my case I actually have natural gravity fed water (not a lot of pressure but a little bit) so when the water pump engaged it broke the air lock holding back the water up top and pulled the water down. So when it stopped pumping water was still pushing down. I had assumed (wrongly) that the pump had at least something resembling a solenoid (on and off valve of sorts that opens or closes when power is sent to it) to stop water flow immediately. Instead the toilet filled endlessly, slowly, into the toilet. Thus I have spent several weeks making a very slow water fountain. Fortunately with the manifold etc I was able to shut off the water flow manually (ball valves are our friends), unfortunately this means I had to acquire a solenoid of some sorts.
Part 2 of the toilet saga: The search for solenoids
I read online and tried to contact the tech support for the Italian toilet manufacturer. The time differences made communication a test in patience and the language barrier eventually broke me down into making MS Paint diagrams to explain the situation to him and my solution to make sure it was kosher. The solution is simple:
  1. Find a good 12 volt normally closed solenoid (normally closed means that you have to give the solenoid power to open)
  2. Install the solenoid in front of the pump
  3. Wire the solenoid to the same power source as the pump (this means that when the pump is given power to pump water that the solenoid opens to let in water. When the water pump is turned off to stop water it stops the water flow. Simple)
Eventually without getting confirmation that this would or wouldn’t work from the manufacturer (they started to ignore me) I just decided to go ahead with it. NOW I needed to find a solenoid. I went to the website for my normal marine parts supplier and was confronted with a rather terrible website (Sorry guys if you’re reading this but honestly even with the viewable catalog online I still have to use the “other guys” website to find what I want before I contact you guys at all), I went to their competitors next who are known to charge way too much for stuff… Well that belief was not dissuaded when I went there and saw that the only solenoid that was suitable was too small for the pipe (not a big deal really), plastic, and $110. Wow. Just wow. So I said nuts to that and went online to look for solenoids. First hit was a similar one to the first one I found and only $7.50. Ya. A bit different in price. But I wasn’t very happy with the fact that it was plastic and would be at the lowest point in the entire system really so I decided to continue looking for stronger ones and found some brass ones that are industrial grade, good for air, water, oil and freon (in case I want to air condition my butt I suppose) and also capable of holding back 147PSI. Price? $35. Perfect. Lets order 2.
I get the email saying its shipped that very evening and saying that at latest it should arrive by the 12th… Today… But 1 thing was on the email that made me nervous. USPS. Oh god. I checked online with my tracking number. HA. Why bother? All they say is “Yup. It was shipped priority 1 and we acknowledge that there was a shipping request.” Literally that’s it. There has not been any updates, their update by email system sends nearly a week later to inform me that there was an order when in theory it should be at the border already. So ya. Here I am. Solenoidless and incidentally still functioning toiletless as well. The manufacturer of the solenoids themselves has been nice though and said that if I don’t get it by today that I should contact them. Which I probably will tomorrow and ask for it to be shipped by someone reliable.
Anyways I hope I have good news later today on that but I’m not holding my breath at this moment in time. Fortunately I have adjusted myself nicely to Boater Time which means it’ll get here when it does. And when it does. Great.

One of these people is not like the other…

On September 06, 2011 In Boat

So this morning (August 30th) while waiting for the tender we had some unusual guests there. Before we continue when you think of the words “Captain”, “Yachstman” etc your mind typically conjures up pictures like this:

From Misc
From Misc
From Misc

And if you’re marina is lucky perhaps this :P :

From Misc

Not this typically:

From Misc

Now far be it for me to cast aspersions or whatever at how someone is dressed or whatever (having 0 fashion sense myself I tend to rely on my sister for guidance as to what clothing to buy so I don’t look like a 1990’s computer nerd). But sadly there tends to be a few… traits with people like that that is very… shall we say… Jersey Shore like.

The best part though aside from him shouting obscenities into his phone about how his lady friend of questionable virtue (paraphrasing from his conversation) did whatever that cheesed him off, and how someone had dis’d him such that he would do rather nasty things to them with a melon baller (paraphrasing again), was that this was done at toooooooooooop volume to ensure that everyone knew how cool he was… or something… I figured that perhaps he hadn’t quite got the grasp the cellphone had the power to project ones voice over long distances and that shouting didn’t help the transmission distance. Anyways on top of this free form speech competition he had going on between himself, his lady friend, and his “homies” there there was a general look of horror amoung all the boaters waiting for the tender. I think the combined thought which was easy to pick up from people there was “Dear lord I hope they don’t have a boat here. WHY are they here? Oh god oh god is this the next generation of boaters?! Will they need to put spinners and ground effect lights on their boats?! Will the bars music be changed from Jimmy Buffet to Tu-Pac?!”

Needless to say I haven’t seen them since but it was hilarious to see a whole chunk of the community of liveaboarders looking on in horror. :P

Summer in TO

On July 03, 2011 In Boat, Captains Log

The sun sets on Pathfinder once again after a spectacular series of long overdue nice days. True they’ve been hot, but it hasn’t rained, no drops in temperature and overall the evenings have proven to be quite pleasant. In any case I find myself relaxing after driving back from my parents house this weekend on the front deck looking at the full, yet quiet, B Basin of Toronto Island Marina with the CN Tower to my left lit up by the setting sun. Life couldn’t get much better than this really.

The summer has so far been a rather busy time for me with work and the boat but mostly work taking up a large amount of time. Again I find that refitting a vessel while living on it while still working is, if anything, a test of patience and extremely flexible on board project deadlines. Many of you know that I’m still wrestling with the plumbing for the boat with special focus on getting our head (toilet) done. Everyone seems to marvel at how long we’ve lasted without one on board but honestly after having essentially lived a life style more akin to camping than in a (floating) condo Jeannie and I have (miraculously) gotten used to it. Every day I work on Pathfinder gets us closer and closer to being a fully fitted out live aboard vessel, but with every step forward one tends to run into “surprises” along the way forcing one to either rethink, redo, or rip out something on board. This isn’t due to a lack of planning mind you as I’ve found one of the best ways to shorten project times is to literally think about how to do stuff on board for days and even weeks before actually starting on it. I know this sounds like me being incredibly lazy but I’ll guarantee you that this sort of project requires careful planning above and beyond what normal house renovations require. Here’s an example:

Behind where our toilet will go I have to build a rectangular box to house the sewage hose, water pipe, and electronic system for the toilet. One would assume this would be a straight forward series of 12 pieces of wood (roughly) that is split into 3 different sizes to make a proper box (4 for width, 4 for height, 4 for depth). Well no. Since this is a) a boat and b) an old boat things have warped and shifted into odd angles and what not. One cannot even use something as basic as a level since the boat rocks with the waves and also tends to list (lean) to one side. As a result every piece is a different size yet it is now perfectly square to the floor and to every other piece. Weird eh?

Regardless of all these hang ups we now have both side of the galley completely done cabinet wise (counter top, water, electricity, lighting are still in the works), we have a window AC unit installed (inside the pilot house it can easily hit 30 degrees without the blinds closed and the AC off like we had for the past 2 days while we were gone), ventilation for the cargo hold retro fitted into the cargo hold hatch done, and part of the starboard side repainted with black paint to cover the rust and scuffs from it’s 5 years of neglect in the ocean (Thanks Jeannie!).

So as one can see things are progressing, but life throws things in the way which one needs to take care of.

In the Marina itself our little community expands and contracts depending on the sort of events going on on or around the island and the weather (psch… These fair weather boaters I tell ya). The tour boats still fly on by putting us on display and mentioning Pathfinder prominently, however incorrectly, in their tour speeches. The wild life knows which ships to harass for bread, and we still end up giving tours almost weekly to people who have dreams of working and living on a boat such as ours. But for now I shall sign off calling it a night on my little 65′ slice of cottage life heaven in down town TO before starting the work week anew.

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