Monday, September 24, 2012

That dreaded POX

I think I have contracted that dreaded scourge of boat owners. I have all the symptoms, excessive time on the computer, eagerly awaiting emails and attachments. Carefully scrutinizing picture after picture of boats, a dreamy look on my face, with screwed up sketches of possible modifications strewn around.

Poor Karen has to put up with me constantly asking if she likes this or that boat... I almost wish she was suffering from the same illness.  For a while I thought I was alone with this syndrome, but I heard some friends are also suffering the same malady, it must be going around. They have even found a name for the sickness, the dreaded 6 foot-itis

Of course Mike and Larissa deserved to get it, spending years living on a 34 footer with two kids is bound to bring on such an nasty affliction, but me.. What did I do to deserve it?

Anyway look on the bright side, it could be worse, it could be 10 foot-itis or even 20 foot-itis.

So yes it is official, I am looking at other boats, nothing to serious yet, it's a big leap. But I always saw Snow Petrel as more of an interim boat, at some point I need to get serious about things and make the plunge. Boats being so cheap at the moment is certainly a factor. I just have to make sure 6 foot-itis doesn't develop (as it so often can) into that most fatal of diseases, the dreaded Dreamboat-itis that will leave me crippled, my back broken forever under a mountain of debt.

I have looked at catamarans, old racing boats, even older rusty cruising boats. My wish list is as follows :
  1. Cheap
  2. Strong
  3. Fast and easy to handle
  4. Shoal draft
  5. Beautiful
  6. Low maintenance 
  7. Good light airs performance 
  8. Roomy and comfortable at sea and in port
I am guessing I will be looking for a while, but if you hear of such a boat please let me know right away.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A tale of fire and ice

Well, not really much ice, more sort of rain and some cold wind but hey.. got your attention. But the fire, yep a real fire on the boat!

Intentional of course, and nicely contained in the welded metal firebox, nicely warming the boat to 29 degrees, and warding of that icy weather. Finally after many years of procrastination the wood heater is on the boat, and working exceptionally well.

It replaces the smelly little Taylors diesel heater that I never really bonded with. In fairness I did buy it from a garage sale for $100 and it really needed a bit of an overhaul, a very small diesel leak used to develop when it heated up and it gave of a slight whif of diesel... Yuk. 

This wood heater was of my own design, (or rather adapted from my friend Adrian's design). It is just big enough to fit a normal sized log, and has a  mesmerizing window, a secondary burning chamber, and enough controls to keep a concord pilot busy. 

I love it, I love the slightly smoky warm fug inside, the flickering of the flame through the door, and the radiant heat. 

I love the hot kettle simmering away on the top. I love playing with all the controls, stoking it, lighting it, and the lazy way the smoke curls out the chimney. Shame it has taken 6 years to build, and now I have it installed just in time for summer...

See the post on welding stuff for details of the tools I used and a photo of the door being made, I managed to source some heat proof glass to fit inside the scrap stainless steel door. It's welded up from 6mm (1/4") mild steel plate (that I also got from adrian, thanks mate!), and it weighs a ton.

The installation is not quite complete. Hopefully soon the stainless steel heat shields will be fitted instead of the cheap galvanized one, and some tiles will be glued on the floor. I also need to make a new stack top, the old one was washed overboard in the knockdown on the way to Antarctica. And finally weld up some fiddles and guards. But all in good time, I guess I have until next winter!

Maybe amongst this hive of activity I will find time to post a few things on here, my apologies for the long lapse. Some time soon my old man will get his website up and running about his book "Snow petrel". So soon I can post a link to that, and with luck it may stop him harassing me to put something about the book on here...

Ohh, Important stuff I nearly forgot, Playing with fire is something most of us grow out of when we are about five, I clearly have not yet achieved this level of maturity. However I am very careful about shielding, and do not leave the fire unattended. I was told by a firefighter that wood can slowly change into a more flammable state after years of exposure to "safe" temperatures. Then one day it bursts into flame at the same safe temperature it has always been exposed to. A homemade wood heater is also liable to nasty antisocial habits like belching carbon monoxide, flames, and hot embers, or worse. Be careful...