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

Still here in body only

On August 22, 2011 In News

Hey all. Just a quick note here on the distinct lack of any updates lately. I do have a lot of posts in the works but I’ve been either too busy to finish them or frankly too tired after all the work. With how some things are going lately I’ve also been left a bit angry, upset or tired which I’ve learned through some experience is a bad combination to write do any form of writing as those moods do creep out through the writing.

So just a quick list of what is in the pipe:

  • Another captains log entry from my original trip
  • My recent trip to NY, DC and Buffalo
  • Boat work progress
Ya. In other words I have a load of posts lined up which I’ll try to break up so it’s not 1 huge post. But I’d rather do it when I’m not frothing out the mouth at times.
Ciao for now.

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.

Summer is definitely here… Could it please leave now?

On June 08, 2011 In Boat, Captains Log

34 degrees Celsius? Honestly? For Pete’s sake this weather is not being kind.

Fortunately we have 1 weapon available for the time being… The lake. It’s still cold water in there so the cargohold stays at a much cooler temp than the pilot house etc which does get very hot. Next week I’ll be dragging the in window AC unit down to put into one of our windows in said pilot house. Cool air should fall from there into the lower areas eventually much more easily than the issue we had in winter where hot air apparently decided to not rise from the cargo holds fire place.

We also install the other 1/2 of the cabinets in the galley and I have a few pictures of that. Just haven’t had a moment to upload them given how busy work has been. sigh


On May 24, 2011 In Uncategorized

So ya. I spent the rapture with my number 1 gal on the boat for the 3pm time slot and the I was having poutine with pulled pork at the 6pm time slot. Not a bad way to spend the beginning of the end of the world really :)

Our friend Harrod Camping has revised his A-Plane to heaven schedule in the wake of absolutely nothing happening at his given time (minus the nearly 100million dollars he apparently made during this prediction) to October 21st which is when in his original prediction the world was going to end as a whole. Originally Rapture was supposed to be May 21st followed by 5 months of hell for the rest of us left behind. NOW it’s going to be 5months of hell THEN the rapture. But that’s ok because apparently on top of this people WERE raptured… SPIRITUALLY!!!! Soooo I suppose that gives the green light to everyone who’s been raptured to be complete jerks to their fellow man since they’re now spiritless? Whatever. In any case the plans to help defeat the apocalyptic heat that we’ll have will include installing an AC unit into the boat sometime this year. So HA! Take THAT brimstone!


On May 17, 2011 In Uncategorized

Or not as I have milk that expires on May 22nd therefore the raptures date (as discerned by Mr.Camping) May 21st can’t be accurate.

Anyways I do have some animal related posts to put up but I have a few things to get sorted out first (ie photos and some maps as to where I’ve seen the animals around the islands). BUT being an avid fan of end of the world predictions, conspiracy theories and other tin foil hat wearing shenanigans I can’t just leave this one alone. So what is this end of he world prediction based on I hear you wonder. WELL let us let the math do the talking.

First off according to bible scholars Jesus was put on the cross on April 1 33AD (worst April fools prank ever).

Between April 1 33AD and April 1 2011AD there’s 1978 years.

1978 x 365.2422 (number of days per year) = 722,449

722,449 + 51 (number of days between April 1st and May 21st) = 722,500

So what right? WELL here’s where the shocker comes. Did you know that 722,500 = ( 5 x 10 x 17 ) ^2? (The little ^2 means to the power of 2 or in this case Squared)

So ya. Again… So what right? Well according to Camping:

5 = atonement

10 = completeness

17 = heaven

AMAZING!… Wait… Where did those numbers come from? As far as I can tell he just pulled them out of the air. No proof. Just his belief. Yup. That’s it.

Instead lets say that 722,500 represents Waffles. So this May 21st HOIST a waffle up high for international Waffle Worship Day! Or according to a group in Florida its international Gator day. So take your pick. I plan on having waffles though.

Random Musings on Fantasy Stories

On May 10, 2011 In Uncategorized

I have lots to write about I just never seem to sit down and actually tell the tales via my blog. Primarily because I get distracted by, well, distractions or I’m just not in the mood to write. For instance today I wanted to do a post on the animals I’ve encountered at TIM so far but I realize that I haven’t uploaded all my photos for them yet. I also want to write about the crazy windy storm that happened this past thursday but I haven’t uploaded a video one of the captains at TIM took on the tender showing the waves and primarily the hurricane force winds (No that’s not an exaggeration).

But here I am, not writing about either. Instead I’ve been thinking about a lot of what if scenario’s and how they’d work out in a story. Like the Lord of the Rings books is all set in the past with dwarves, elves and the like but their species were all sort of just fading away into history or whatever. Which begs the question why? They weren’t any less adaptable as humans really. Sure they were set in their very ancient ways but no more so than man. I brought this up to one of my colleagues at my office and pointed out that there doesn’t seem to be any fantasy type moves set in the now. Which she promptly shot down by pointing out that our action films are modern day fantasies. In “ye olde” fantasies it was usually all about some ancient artifact or king or whatever with some big event threatening to change the face of the earth. In todays action films though they’re basically the same thing. Since both have a good vs evil aspect to it and some hero(s) that have to do something to save the world. So there goes my hopes for a modern day Lord Of The Rings I suppose since it’d basically be “Die Hard” meets “Sum Of All Fears”. sigh

Anyways I’m currently reading “Dune” which is a great book and I’m thinking of picking of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” next since zombie literature is (oddly enough) quite good at times.

Back home at TIM

On April 25, 2011 In Boat, Captains Log

As cheesy as this sounds it really felt like a home coming when we got back to TIM this past Friday. Before we get to far into it here’s the path we took:

View Pier 4 to TIM April 2011 in a larger map

Originally we had planned to make this trip a lot bigger by going out the Western gap then coming in through the Eastern gap and coming into TIM. We didn’t do this for a number of reasons.

  1. During winter we used quite a bit of fuel for heating with the Webasto. Near the end we had sorted out the system a bit more thus we got it to use less but still that ate through a quite a lot of fuel.
  2. We couldn’t get a fuel truck in to give us more fuel. This was rather ridiculous overall. We wanted 1500L of undyed diesel delivered to us for heating and general fuel (The Webasto is a fuel oil system and fuel oil is just dyed diesel. Legally we can’t run dyed diesel in the boat since we can use it for moving the ship around and undyed diesel is taxed in a particular way for non-commercial transportation…. It’s a bit confusing but whatever)
  3. Timing. Basically since the fuel issue was around we could do the trip in a short while and get ourselves safely across, have a drink or 2, and call it a day for Easter weekend. If we had stayed around longer the day would get a bit longer for the entire crew and we’d all get home late.

Overall the entire trip went fairly well with only the typical issues associated with manually dragging a large ship with the wind blowing it into the marina through a narrow channel. Lots of rope and some elbow grease and we were able to pull Pathfinder through the bridge and passed one of the docks that was pointing into the channel a bit. The engine then started up alright and we headed on off across the harbour to the Islands (A trip of 2km roughly). Things were going well until we were just shy of the 1/2 way point when the engine started to conk out the way an engine does when it has no fuel. A number of questions raced through my head really quickly.

Had my last fuel sounding been off drastically?

Did we really not have 600L’s in fuel left?

Were we going to be in serious trouble and get blown into the airport before we got rescued?!

Turns out none of those. Apparently right before winter we shutoff the fuel lines to the engine just to stop any fuel leaks we might have. So ya. Whoops! This just reinforces that I need to get a sensor array working in the engine rooms so we have a ships status screen of some sorts.

The other issue that we had was the weather. It was gorgeous no doubt but when I had woken up that day it was perfectly calm with NO wind at all. By the time we were ready to set off (around 11:45) the wind had picked up and was starting to blow the ship sideways (Ships such as Pathfinder have no sails and don’t use wind as a mode of transportation BUT since we have a super structure [The house like section above the hull part of the boat] we have a lot of something called “freeboard” which is the amount of surface area of the ship above the water. THIS acts like a sail and since Pathfinder has a LOT of weight it takes a lot of pulling to stop it from drifting away since the wind was blowing us west into the middle of the marina.). By the time we got to the Deep Pike Cut, where we have to keep an eye out for a hidden sand bar that depending on the water depth, we couldn’t see through the waves since it was a bit choppy. Regardless we made it through with no issues and managed to get to our dock with no incident… minus our dock have 2 ships on it temporarily which got out of our way REALLY quickly.

Once tied up it was like a really nice home coming. Saw a lot of faces I recognized and they recognized our crew back which was nice. So now everything is as it should be. Back at the island where it’s nice and quiet, the cottage country in the middle of down town Toronto.

Big thanks to Niel, Sandy and John Cameron along with Marjorie. Also thanks to Shane from Pier 4 for helping with the ropes. Naturally a HUGE thanks to my Dad for piloting us across (something I hope to learn how to do properly this year)!

Cookin’ up a galley in the kitchen.

On March 24, 2011 In Boat

As the title indicates we’ve been working on the galley space a bit. FINALLY we have a room that has a well defined purpose other than the engine room. That being said it’s not complete but it’s got the gray cabinets up and in place with a counter on top now. Regardless we now have this:

So although we don’t have any sink or anything like that you can see the space is really well defined now! :)

Next up I’m back off to the cargo hold to finish some metal work and to get back to working on the buttress so we can move our bedroom down there instead. Busy busy as usual!

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