Finally feeling like progress is being made!

I’ve been living in a boat that feels more like the abode of a “hoarder” than a sailboat. There have been boxes stacked up to the point where I had the vee berth and the nav station and part of the galley to live in, and had to pick my way around boxes to move between those places.

Yesterday was a productive day. Although no project was finished, a number of them made substantial progress and I can see the salon table again (though still can’t use it at the moment).

There was nothing I couldn’t have done in time (with some requiring an assitant), though some of it took 2 people to do since it required being in two places at the same time. However, I hired a professional to do a lot of it. He has the advantage of experience. He didn’t have to think his way through things because he’s already done them before – plus he has the tools to do it! Me, I often had to figure out what needed to be done, look through my tools, and then figure out a way to McGuyver a way to get something done, and that all takes a lot of time.

We got most of the electronics mounted and now they’re mainly just waiting for power and/or an antennae to be run to them to make them operational. At the same time, we’ve removed an old chart plotter that wouldn’t even power up, which made the helm station a lot less cluttered.

The boat electronics are being centralized. All the important equipment is going to be at the nav desk down in the cabin, protected from the elements and potential thieves. At the helm station (and scattered through the rest of the boat if needed) we will put an iPad that is using WiFi to display needed information. When the race or cruise is over, walk the iPad down below and watch a movie on it or something. We’re also installing a waterproof USB charger so that the iPad can stay charged there at the helm.

For the radio, we’re similarly installing a wireless system so that the radio microphone can be moved around the boat wherever needed. It will have a charging cradle at the nav station as well.

The AIS is installed, though it still needs power and a hookup to the antennae, and then it needs to be programmed.

I’ve now had first had eperience of “meathooks” on the safety lines, opening up a gash on my left arm. Of course, that happened the same day as the replacement safety lines arrived. I still have a bunch of splicing to do to prepare the new, dyneema, safety lines to be installed – that’s awaiting being able to use the cabin table to work upon.

Today will be mostly mechanical work on the engine, steering system, and hopefully the propane system At that point, we’ll be ready to go until winter, at least mechanically and electrically. Oh, and the wind and water sensors need to be ironed out as I’m not getting indications of wind speed nor direction nor our water speed. Also want to see if we can hook the radar to the chart plotter since the radar display is inside the cabin and, therefore, unreadable from the helm.

Things that will still need to be sorted:

  • Mattress cushions for the two aft bunks
  • Refrigeration of some sort for the galley
  • Potentially replacing the head witha composting one
  • Some blackout curtains or something for the sleeping berths to allow good sleep during the day.
  • Insect netting for all the openings.
  • Water maker so that we don’t have to carry water for long distance cruising
  • Solar power or other electrical generation equipment

After that it’s tinkering with the interior to get it the way we like.

LED lighting (again)

Has it really been 5 days? Well, a couple of those were taken up with running up and back to the comfort station. Apparently soy milk does not agree with me and my stomach!

I’ve been doing some more research on the LED lighting situation – how to design the system. It would normally be an easy thing – you simply buy the white/red LED lights that have a built in switch. But… (there’s always a “but” to make things difficult, isn’t there?)

Those lights that have the switch in them are 6 1/2 inches across. The current holes in the headliner is 3 inches across. The lights with the switch in them requires 3 inches of clearance. The current headliners have 1 1/2 inches of clearance. If I used the lights with switches they would require I enlarge the holes in the headliners AND they would protrude a bit from the headliner. Not an aesthetically pleasing installation. Oh, and did I mention that they are almost twice the price of the LED one I was considering?

So after doing some poking around, this is what’s been decided:

The lights under consideration have three wires to them. There’s a common ground and then two power lines. If you apply power to one of the power lines, the white LED turns on. If you apply the power to the other power line, the red LED turns on. Don’t apply power to BOTH of them at the same time. The manufacturer warns against that.

At the nav station I have two switches. One switch energizes the starboard cabin lights. The other switch energizes the port cabin lights. All the cabin lights are run in parallel like a christmas tree where if one light burns out, the rest keep working.

What we’re going to do is use an external switch at each light. Push the switch to towards the bow of Opus and the red LED will be selected. Push the switch towards the stern and the white LED will be seleccted. Put the switch in the middle and neither light will be selected. The switches at the nav station will still energize port or starboard, or maybe I’ll put all the lights on one swich, freeing up a switch to use for other things (I can run all the lights off one switch since the LED lights draw far less current than the current incandescent ones).

Most other things are just waiting for supplies to arrive, although hopefully tomorrow I’ll be taking Opus over to the boatyard so that it can be worked on there. Having a professional working on it will make the work go a lot faster (plus there is stuff I just can’t do alone).

I also had a talk with the border folks to see if I can, somehow, commute back and forth rather than living on the boat, but I’l write more about that in the Captain’s Corner blog.

At the docks

Today is the first slightly nice day since Opus arrived at the marina. I actually see some baby blue poking its nose out from between the clouds. That means I can open up the engine room and start surveying what needs to be done (Access to the main part of the engine room is through the lazarette outside – a miserable proposition when it’s raining!)

There’s still not a LOT I can do before tomorrow. I don’t want to start disassembling things without means to replace them as I put them back together. That means waiting for tomorrow for the chandlery to open (they are closed Sundays and Mondays). Organization is the key for today – organizing the supplies I DO have and the tools. I also plan on tearing up the sole of the cabin to start making a diagram of where all the through-holes and plumbing and such go. I might even start on wire brushing the corrosion off the engine so I can see what might be causing it. If the organization is done and the aft double berth cleared off, I’ll also look into what I need to do to secure the batteries.

Tomorrow I plan on putting in an order for the dyneema and fittings I need to replace the line lines, new fenders (the current ones are undersized in my opinion) as well as (potentially) some new dock lines. I’m currently tied to the dock using lines that aren’t really right for it, but I’ve doubled them up, so they should take the strain until I can get better ones on.

Hardware-wise I’ll be ordering a new solenoid system and pressure regulator for the propane, complete with gas sensor, plus caulking for the galley and head cabinetry. I’ll probably be ordering even more once I get into the machinery spaces and see what I need to get done.

I’ll also stop by the office to get the secret to accessing the internet and to drop off the bribe… I mean present for the office staff that were so nice to me.

Physically, I’ve recovered from the trip down. I’m surprised how much it took out of me. I’m hoping it was just the cold and wet and not having eaten properly, but exercise is going to be part of my morning routine!

Taking her home

Today was the day to bring Opus home. Sure, she had a home, but once she was sold to me, she really couldn’t stay where she was – a member’s only yacht club dock. Even if I had joined the yacht club, I still wouldn’t have been able to keep her there. I would have had zero seniority and there’s a waiting list.

Instead, she’s berthed elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s in the U.S., which meant I had to cross the border. I don’t know if it’s because I have U.S. (as well as Canadian) citizenship, whether it’s because I have a NEXUS card, or whether it’s because I’ve have my first jab of vaccination, isolated for more than 2 weeks before the trip, or that I had a negative COVID test 3 days, but it was easier to import ME to the U.S. than it was to import the yacht.

Anyway, I’m bushed after a day that started at 2:30 in the morning so I’ll write more another time.

Tomorrow’s the big day!

I take full command of Opus tomorrow. So today is running around like crazy getting the last minute things done in preparation for being gone for a while. I had to get a copy of my COVID vaccination report, results of my COVID test, a few bits and bobs, order some stuff for the boat (that will be delivered at my new berth, but needed to order now before a cash back offer expired), pull together the last minute things, go get the truck that we’ll use to bring sails home, etc.

The former owner has been really gracious so that I won’t have to night over in False Creek. I really wasn’t looking forward to doing that, though I did make a reservation just in case. Anchoring at night, in a boat that I’m unfamiliar with, in a busy, congested, area like False creek, and then trying to sleep while worried, and with no good way to prepare meals, didn’t sound like a good idea to me, but if it was the only way, then c’est la vie, take it as a challenge and do one’s best.

The electonics that I ordered is an AIS transceiver. Some may say that a sailboat really doesn’t need one. It’s not like we’re all that fast, so people have plenty of time to see us, and that’s true, but I would also like to see others coming up on me and have some idea of where they’re going. That only requires a (cheaper) receiver, but the thought of them seeing me in low visibility such as fog is comforting.

So soon the ship will be sporting a Vesper Cortex M1/VHF unit, the first of the electronics upgrades I want to do (next is either sensors such as wind sensors and water speed sensors, or a new chartplotter… we’ll see what is required when I have a better opportunity to exercise the electronics. Heck, it might be a new radar system).

The “Oh my god, what have I done” is starting to take a back seat to the excitement and anticipation – though there’s still a LOT of work to do before the anticipation can be turned into reality.

OMG I own a yacht!

Normally when things do not go according to plan, it usually means that things have gone in the worse direction. Delays push off closing dates for houses. Storms arrive sooner than expected and before you’re prepared. We were intending on closing on our new (to us) yacht on Thursday. Then the closing date got moved to Tuesday. Except that it happened yesterday (Monday).

So now I’m an owner of a sailing yacht.

It hasn’t sunk in yet.

What HAS sunk in is that I’ve taken on a huge chunk of responsibility. The clock has started ticking and I have 30 days to bring the yacht into compliance with the suggestions made by the marine surveyor. This is to satisfy the insurance company that they haven’t made a mistake insuring us. If we aren’t in compliance within 30 days, the insurance company reserves the right to cancel our insurance — which would be disasterous.

In these current days, with COVID, this may well be a challenge. There’s a list of stuff that needs to get done. Getting parts is not so easy now. I can’t just run to the marine parts store to get something since the boat is (will be) on one side of the border and I live on the other, and the border is closed to all “non-essential” traffic. I doubt that they will agree that changing the safety lines on my yacht is an essential thing. It might be to me, but my definitions don’t count.

So, instead, each time I discover a part that needs to be ordered, I have to order it and then wait for it to be delivered, install it, discover I need some other adapter or something and order THAT. Of course, that gives me time to actually investigate and plan rather than just bodge something together. In the long run, this is a good thing.

So what will I be doing if I am roadblocked waiting for parts to appear, assuming that all jobs are stonewalled at the same time?

Well, I plan on bringing my captain’s license materials with me to study. I plan on working on my sailing software for the Raspberry Pi. I plan on working on my crocheting. I plan on reading. I plan on walking and bicycling. I plan on sleeping. And, assuming that the boat is in a state where it’s reasonable to take it out sailing, I’ll even do some sailing, though there are definitely some projects that I want to complete before taking her out too much – not because the previous owner is giving me an unsafe boat, but because I don’t want the insurance company mad at me.

I finally figured out that although there are rules and regulations for boating, we are likely far more governed by what the insurance companies require in order to provide insurance than the actual rules and regulations. It’s almost like they’re a shadow legislature. It’s not shady or a conspiracy. They want to protect their investment. I get that, but it’s still an interesting way to look at things.

Today I head up to the yacht brokers’ office to pick up the _actual_ paperwork. They already emailed to me PDFs of the paperwork so that I could start the licensing and insurance stuff, but today I get my hands on the actual sheets of paper. After that it’s down to the boat to meet the previous owner and start onloading and offloading of things as well as gain the beenfit of his experience and knowledge. That process will, hopefully, continue for the rest of this week culminating in a last trip on Friday where Anne will drop me off and I’ll take her from where her previous owner kept her to her new home.

It might well be a 2 day trip with a very short hop off the docks to an anchorage, then the longer trip the next day. This is due to, potentially, getting off the docks rather late in the afternoon and my not wanting to end up on a new boat to a new harbour with me fuzzy-brained from a full day, late at night. That’s a no-good combination, for sure.

Stay tuned for more on how the trip went!

Running around like crazy

If you’ve been watching the countdown timer, you’ll know that it’s not long before we take ownership of our new yacht. Things happen quickly since she will no longer be able to stay at her current berth. We have a new berth, but, still, there’s a lot of things to do. So today was running around on errands to get the things we could for the 30-ish mile journey from her current berth to her new one, where she’ll be as we deal with all the things required by insurance and coast guard and us. Only once those things are dealt with will she be moved again for fun sailing.

After running around today and coming up short on a number of things, we (Anne and I) returned to a house that is upended as we organize what we’re moving onto Opus immediately for the refit: tools, supplies, etc. But today was a day to learn something new. After running errands, today was spent making a flag. Ok, not the most essential thing to do, but there isn’t a lot more that we can do until we can get onto the ship.

I’ve never really done sewing before, so this was an interesting experience. From knowing nothing, I had to engineer how I want the flag to behave. It was, fortunately, a fairly easy flag to design in terms of graphical elements.

The crazy thing is that this flag might never be needed by us. It’s flown at the starboard spreader to indicate you wish “free practique”. In essence, you fly it from the time you enter a foreign country’s waters, until such time as you are cleared through customs and into the country, at which time you remove the signal flag and hoist the courtesy ensign (flag) of the country you are visiting.

Flag etiquette has a long past and many traditions. The flag of the country in which your vessel is registered goes at the stern. The courtesy flag of the country you are visiting goes at the starboard spreader (unless that spot is taken by the “Quarantine” flag asking for entry). At the top of the mast goes your club’s burgee (basically your club’s flag). Other flags may go on the port spreader or underneath the courtesy flag, mostly, unless you’re fully dressing in which case there may be flags on the forestay, flacks on the aft stay, flags on the stern, flags at the masthead, flags on the starboard and port spreaders, etc.

Anyway, one of our stops was at a marine supply store where they had never heard of this flag stuff. It’s a little demoralizing to see. Meanwhile, in an online forum, there is an “instructor” who was insisting, incorrectly, about one of the rules for collision avoidance despite the rule stating quite literally the opposite. I realize that anyone can make a mistake, but afterwards the person basically retreated into, “well, that’s the way it SHOULD be.” He may be correct (though it’s debatable) about how it should be, but as an instructor it’s important to thoroughly know and teach the way that it is currently, especially when it comes to the basics of how to avoid hitting another boat.

I’ve also started putting together the organizing documents for the race team that I wish to put together for our new boat. That’s going to be a whole headache itself, and we’ll see if there are any people that are “takers” about it.


Wednesday we withdrew the money from our bank account and deposited it into the Broker’s account. The bank had told us that it can take up to 7 days for them to actually recognize the money, which is why we did it now. However, our yacht broker informed me today that the money had reached their account and would we like to push the deal through faster?

Uhhh, YEAH. Please?

So now the new day for the boat to change hands is this coming Tuesday. Unfortunately, due to logistics, I still won’t be sailing her until the 23rd, but she’ll be ours and we can start moving things onto/off of her which will make packing her on the trip day a lot faster.

We have decided on our insurer as well, and I’ve planned the route, all 35 nautical miles of it, over and over again, poring over the charts to make sure I have it right. It simply will not do to have an incident with our new yacht on the first day!

I’ve also started putting out the feelers for the Opus race team and drawing up documents. In fact, I probably should put that document up here on the website. What an idea! I think I’ll go do that now.

Another one bites the dust!

We got our first insurance quote back in. It is about twice the amount I was hoping for, but at least we know that we can get insurance. That’s a load off my mind. Really, the only concern left is whether the U.S. will let me in. They should. I’m a U.S. citizen, but these things are never guaranteed.

I’m doing all that I can to prepare for it. This past Friday I received my first shot of the two part Astra-Zeneca vaccine. I’ve paid for my COVID test to take within 3 days before entering the U.S., and I’m isolating myself as much as I possibly can right now.

Unfortunately, the COVID test requires a Doctor’s requisition even though I’m paying for it out of pocket — and my doctor wants to talk to me beforehand. Hopefully this is pro-for a stuff.

The amount of “stuff” I’ll be bringing aboard is growing daily. Normally I wouldn’t have so much even for an extended cruise, but since I’m there to work on the boat, and I can’t come home if I need something, it feels like I’m moving almost everything I own there.

Yesterday we checked with the banks to see how long it takes to move money from my bank to the bank where funds will be disbursed, sort of like escrow. My bank can do the transfer in a few hours. Unfortunately, Bank of Montreal says that it can take them 7 days to process it at their end. It was an interesting conversation that went something like this:

Me: 7 days? Even with a bank draft?

Them: yes, it can take us 7 days.

Me: but I thought a bank draft was the same as cash.

Them: it is.

So, if it’s the same as cash, doesn’t that mean it is treated the same way? So if I showed up with the same amount in bills, it might take as long as 7 days to credit their account? That’s crazy.

Lists, Lists, and more Lists

Anne, the wonderful organized person that she is, has about 40 million lists going. We have a list for each day. We have a list of tasks to do now. We have a list of tasks to do later. We have lists of things to buy, one list per store/vendor/supplier. Somewhere, I’m sure, she has a list of the lists that we have.

Right now I’m concentrating on what do I need in order to safely bring the boat from where she is to our berth where I’ll be able to work on her, plus the things I’ll need to live on her until the sooner of:

  • All the tasks are complete
  • I can’t go any further on the tasks due to a lack of skill/tools/knowledge on my part
  • they’ll let me shuttle back and forth across the international border
  • the marina kicks me out

That means thinking almost like I’m planning a long-distance cruise. What clothes do I want? How do I store them? Food and water. What tools do I bring? What supplies of parts? Bedding? Transportation? Where does this stuff get stowed?

Admittedly, that’s a small part of a long-distance cruise because I’ll be tied up in a marina and have access to thing slike grocery stores, take-out food, a boat yard, a chandlery, and even delivery service from amazon, west marine, steveston marine, etc. I’ll have access to internet too.

Communication is another thing to think about. Because I’ll be in the U.S., I don’t want my cell phone to be active, incurring international roaming charges. So how will I communicate? Fortunately, there’s this thing called the internet. I have to find a hotspot that I can use, and then I get Skype or Zoom, as well as emails. however, when away from the wifi hotspot, how to talk to folks? For that, there’s inreach, which I just reactivated. That will allow me to get short text message, send short text messages.

Transportation around town when I need to go shopping for food – we’ve decided I’ll bring my bike. It’s not that the grocery is so very far away, it’s that the bike can carry more “stuff” in paniers than I can in my hands. Plus there’s the question of how to get home from the boat. According to Google, it’s a bit over a 2 hour bike ride, so that’s what I’ll do. I’ll come home on my bike.

Meanwhile we’re also accumulating ‘stuff’ to bring onto the boat. Bedding, tools, rags, warm gear, rain gear, things to heat the boat with (at least until I’ve repaired the boat heater — but, tied up to the dock, I’m not sure I’d want to use a diesel-powered heater when I have elctricity right there).

Well, tomorrow the tasks begin (again) that require businesses that are open and can take phone calls. It’s good training for being on a boat where there’s ALWAYS something to do!