Practical Stuff

Liveaboards

We have been living on Tomahawk for a week now (which is a good excuse for the lack of posting). There are still a lot of things to do to get settled in, so we are busy: buying propane, hooking up a battery/electrical system, scraping and painting the bottom, cleaning inside and out, organizing our stuff into bins and compartments, etc. Lots of ups and downs, sometimes literally, especially on windy days!

Soon I will post further updates about our various adventures before and after moving on board, such as refloating our friend Jamie’s boat Paramour and fitting everything into storage. Also, yesterday we were sort of trapped on the boat because our dinghy is hard to get into on a choppy bay. Today we plan to remedy this by buying a fender step to hang over Tomahawk’s side.

If all goes well, I’ll be updating a bit more frequently again in the near future!

Fender Step

Our new fender will look something like this

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Categories: Cleaning, Electricity, Getting Started, Life Aboard, Practical Stuff, Supplies | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

House- er, Boatkeeping

The boat is tidier than it’s been in a long time, but don’t get me wrong. It’s far from tidy. We threw out a bagful of crap that the previous owner left on the boat. Evidently, he was of the mindset that you should keep everything, just in case, which is laudable, except that you only have so much space on a boat. To be fair, a lot of the stuff has been sitting doing nothing all winter and probably deteriorated since he decided to keep it.

We’ve also replaced our lost paddles (you can read about that adventure here) and bought a kayak cart. It works great, even though we haven’t inflated the tires yet. So we took one of our kayaks home to our balcony and tucked the other inside the boat’s cabin, since we had cleared it out. I told you it wasn’t actually tidy in there. Keeping it in there reduces the risk of theft, though, which has hit home pretty hard recently.

One of the oars from our dinghy got stolen along with our friend Mike’s rowboat that he built himself. When Jason told him, he seemed surprisingly blase about the loss. “Living on a boat is a good lesson in perspective,” he said. “You’re always wondering what you need to figure out next.”

I suppose this is true of owning a house, as well. Or even a car, in some cases.

Among other things, we stocked up on the required safety equipment for our boat’s size (manual bailer, sound signalling device, fifteen-meter throw rope, etc.). I made a rope ladder by following the instructions in a book about knots that we bought on sale a while ago.

We ordered oarlocks to replace the broken one on our dinghy, but when they arrived, they do not fit. We paid twice as much on shipping and customs as for the oarlocks themselves, which is a bit off-putting. We are going to try to return them, but we probably won’t get much of our money back. As of now, we are considering ways to rig up straps for a temporary fix. Of course, we also need to buy new oars, since someone thought it worthwhile to take one.

Jason is starting a woodworking course soon, so he will try to construct something sturdier once that gets on the go.

Categories: Getting Started, Practical Stuff, Supplies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Warming Up

It finally feels like spring today. I know, I know. People in the rest of Canada and many parts of the US, Asia, and Europe will be thinking, “Finally? It’s only mid-February!” But to us spoiled people here in Vancouver, this month marks the beginning of the end.

The days are getting longer too, which gives me a fuzzy feeling and an itch to get working on the boat.

However, I realized today that we have everything we need to actually sail Tomahawk. The sails are beat up, but seem workable. The hull is solid, albeit due for a cleaning and a fresh coat of bottom paint. The rudder responds well to the tiller. Our biggest concern is the engine. I’m starting to understand why so many boaters are fans of diesel over gasoline. And electric starters, rather than pulling the cord, which I suck at.

We also need to take our engine out of the too-small engine compartment and mount it on the transom. This will be one of our first priorities. Of course, if the engine won’t start properly, we may need to shell out the cash for a new one, which will hurt a lot.

After basic preparations, we will soon need to turn our attention to the battery bank. We’ll need a new battery, in all likelihood, as well as some sort of generator. We have a solar panel on board, but we are thinking hydro would be awesome. And possibly wind. The more sources, the merrier.

Of course, before we can live aboard, we will need a solution to our toilet problem. No, we haven’t solved that yet. We will likely ask a few sailor friends for advice and see what our bank account thinks of the various options.

And a shower. We have our solar shower, which should be fine for summer, but we need some sort of hiding place to shower in. I’m thinking maybe one of those collapsible camping showers, if we can set it up in the cockpit. Hmm…

Lots to think about. Can’t wait to finally start sailing next month!

Categories: Getting Started, New Boat, Practical Stuff, Supplies | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And another thing…

We’ve been thinking (not seriously) of changing our blog’s name to “And another thing…” because every time we fix something on the boat, we find another thing we need to work on. It’s fun on one level, but it’s also very time-consuming and we have yet to actually take Tomahawk out sailing.

Here are a few of the items on our current to-do list:

  • Get the water out of our port compartments. We believe this leaked in through the companionway hatch when the boat was on its side. In other words, it’s not a hull breach and just needs to be sponged out.
  • Clean the interior. It was a bit of a mess before, but since the grounding, everything is all over the place. We bought some biodegradable, sealife-friendly Sea Safe cleaner. If you ever own a boat, please don’t use bleach or other chemicals that harm the environment. We haven’t tried it out yet, but this product is pretty cheap and very concentrated, so it should last a long time. They claim that three capfuls mixed in water will clean our whole boat.
  • Fix or replace the mainsail. Jamie took a look at our mainsail and discovered a tear in the cloth. The whole thing is pretty worn out. Sails are not cheap, so we may just duct tape the tear until we get a bit of practice in and we have some extra
  • Rig up an anchoring light. Right now, we have two solar-powered garden lights from Canadian Tire that are supposed to come on automatically at dusk. They don’t meet the regulations, but they will do until we can figure out how to hook up our electrical system – which brings us to the next point.
  • Hook up the electrical system. It turns out we don’t need to concern ourselves overly with an inverter. DC power will run all the boat’s built-in lights. We just need a solar panel, wind generator, and/or water generator to keep the battery charged. We might also have to do some rewiring, which we have no clue about. I’ve been reading Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey and am learning a lot. I highly recommend this book for people who have no idea about electricity, like me.
  • Patch the Zodiac. Yesterday, we went down to clean up the boat. Our dinghy was still floating, but had taken on a surprising amount of water. It had also deflated a bit. Jason was able to paddle out to the boat without sinking, so hopefully it will be okay until we can fix it. The goal was to get our pump, but the lock on the companionway has seized up. So he wasn’t able to get in and we returned home dejected.
  • Get WD40. See above. If we can’t unseize the lock, we will have to cut it and buy a new one.
  • Put a bridle on our anchor. Having your anchor bridled reduces the amount of strain on the line, since the force is diffused in two directions. It would also allow us to drop the hook directly off the front of the bow, instead of off to one side the way it is now. That would reduce chafe, which was what caused the line to break before.
Anchor bridle

An anchor bridle on the folks at Zero to Cruising’s boat. Check out their awesome blog by clicking on the image!

I’m sure there are a few more things and as soon as we finish one project, something else will crop up. If the dinghy does sink or become irreparable, we now have kayaks that we bought super cheap (display models in the off-season, dontcha know?). We will still be able to get out to the boat to move things forward.

 

Categories: Getting Started, Maintenance, New Boat, Practical Stuff | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

So Much Rain

We haven’t had much chance to do anything with the boat, because our schedules haven’t been lining up very well with each other. Last week was particularly busy, as we went to see Bon Jovi one night, and then Michael Franti & Spearhead another.

The other factor was the weather. It suddenly turned into fall here, which means rain, rain, and more rain. We had torrential downpours over one weekend, with more than 50 centimeters in two days!

Being the newbies that we are, we were afraid the Zodiac dinghy might have drowned. So we did go out to check on it at one point. There was a fair amount of water in it, which we bailed out using the cut-off top half of a plastic milk jug left by Danny, the previous owner, for that purpose (presumably). The other dinghy and kayak tied at the dock had water in them too, so we figured that was just what happens when it rains. We also discovered that the Zodiac has a drain in the back, so that’s good to know.

Checking out the Zodiac

This is sort of how we looked trying to figure out our Zodiac in the rain.

Finally, yesterday was a gorgeous day, so we paddled out to the boat. Our paddling was not very efficient, since the oarlocks are broken. Jason has way more experience with rowing, so I’ll have to take some lessons from him! Still, it was nice to be out on the water, although Jason’s sneakers got soaked. My feet stayed dry, but the shoes I had on could get ruined pretty quick by getting wet all the time. Another semi-urgent thing on our list of boating needs is proper waterproof footwear. (In this city, it’s more than just a boating thing, since it rains so much!)

Tomahawk was still there and doing fine, as we expected. We figured out how to open the hatch and did a small bit of exploring. Mostly we just sat in the cockpit, soaking up the sunset and talking about what we need to learn. It’s a long list. First up is anchoring and using the motor properly, so that we can actually take a trip out of False Creek.

Funny that learning to sail is not very high on the list of challenges right now!

A liveaboard couple who we’ve seen before rowed by in their dinghy with their baby and some supplies. They said hello and asked if we’d just bought the boat. During our brief, shouted exchange, they wanted to know if we were planning to live aboard. We told them, “Eventually!” and they implicitly welcomed us to the club by saying, “We’ll see you out there!” We’ve heard the liveaboard community is friendly, and if these people are a typical example, it certainly seems that way.

Categories: Dinghy, Getting Started, Practical Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Begins

We have officially taken over possession of the boat. Danny and his dad Gerald have vacated the premises, after doing a ton of work on it. They put in a new head (toilet) pump and replaced the wood around the entrance. They bought new locks and cleaned up the inside quarters.

After getting the grand tour, we walked back up the dock. The Zodiac is locked in place for our first trip out as independent owners. Gerald said, “Yesterday when we were working on it, I had a tear in my eye. You really get attached.” I’m sure we will!

Boat Keys

We have keys!

Our solar shower arrived today too. It’s a big black bag with a shower nozzle. You fill it with water and leave it in the sun. The temperature can reach 50 degrees Celsius, according to the instructions! Ouch! Now we just need some sun….

Solar Shower

Important: Place black side up! Should be easy enough, since that’s every side 😉

In spite of the great efforts put in by Danny and Gerald, Tomahawk still needs a bit of work. Here are some things to do, off the top of my head:

I’m sure there will be many, many more items added to this list over time.

 

 

Categories: Cleaning, Electricity, Getting Started, New Boat, Practical Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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