Mar 31 2009

A younger brother

Tag: tripsjonny5waldman @ 3:36 am

Matt, Jon and I went out on a rainy afternoon and caught up with Kanga, another Valiant 40 (built in 1989) owned by our new friends Jim and Jean. We’re sort of like family, our boats. Syzygy, of course, is the bolder, tougher big brother.


Mar 31 2009

RIP, cactus. We’ll miss you.

Tag: musingsjonny5waldman @ 2:17 am
Oh cactus! One second you were there. And the next you were gone. We were out in the Bay, in the wind and waves. It must have been terrifying, from your planty perspective. Your spines must have been quivering, your little stumpy torso trembling in the soil. You were only two months old, and barely four inches tall. You hadn’t ever flowered, or heard many birdsongs. You were innocent. I know that you were a good, hearty, spiky plant. You never harmed anyone. You made our air richer, our lives warmer, and our boat a a little more homey. We’ll miss you. Maybe I pushed you a bit too hard. Maybe a landlubber like you didn’t like dangling from the stern of the boat. Maybe the humidity here didn’t suit your tough skin. Maybe you just missed Arizona. Maybe you got seasick and mistook up for down.. Maybe you jumped ship, hoping for the best. Or maybe you slipped into Davy Jones’ locker to put an end to it all. I don’t know. I’m just sorry it ended this way. What a tragedy, for both of us. RIP, cactus. You were a great plant, and we’ll miss you.

Mar 30 2009

I’d like to thank my mom, my sister, my cousin, my cousin’s neighbor, my brother-in-law’s mechanic, my editor, my dog-walker’s friend’s doctor…

Tag: preparationjonny5waldman @ 5:56 am
It’s been almost a year since we started working on Syzygy, and sometimes, like when the engine wouldn’t start or when the lights didn’t work, or when the chaos of repair projects seemed to spread in every direction and leave no room to sit down (let alone think), standing up to face the pile of work head on has felt like a solitary endeavor indeed. Alas, lately I have been reminded how un-solitary, how befriended, I am — and how grateful I am for such help and friendship. So here’s a brief shout-out to all those who have lent a hand in some way. (If I’ve forgotten you, I apologize. I blame Craig, and the whiskey.) Liz – thanks for help on so many projects: the deck, jib car tracks, stanchions, cleats, and pushpit rails, among others. Sorry for getting epoxy in your hair and under your fingernails. It’ll come out eventually, I promise. Dave – thanks for letting me borrow/use the paint, throw cloths, and brushes again and again. And for the soup. And the beer. And the compliments. Barry and Donna – it’s so great to have such big fans. Thanks for finding the time and energy after running 20 miles to swing by. And thanks for the food/drink, also. You’re too kind. If we had more space we’d let you come with us. Pete and Ray, on board the Lady Margaret Rose – you’ve been our on-call boat support line. Thanks for helping out with the diesel engine, the compressor, and assorted mechanical issues… and for being friends. Jason and Laureen, onboard the Excellent Adventure — thanks for letting me use your table saw, and for the burrito. Jim and Jean, on board Kanga – thanks for such fine photography, steady praise, and for letting me copy the design of your table. Just because our boat’s older doesn’t mean it has to look it. Craig – thanks for the whiskey. It’s good, and almost gone. Jim (aka Maine Guy) – thanks for the steady stream of advice, and for letting me borrow some fine sailing literature. John – thanks for such fine metalwork and custom machining. We remain endlessly proud of our mast steps. Robert – for letting me borrow a carpenter’s square Scott – for donating so much electrical equipment. It’s going to good use. Heather, of Stitchcraft – thanks for playing banjo and singin’ up a storm on my birthday. If i hadn’t been so drunk, I’d say it was a birthday i’ll never forget. Lindsay Mac – for inviting me to a show, and playing a song in Syzygy’s honor. Without music I’d go bonkers. You (but not your cello, it won’t fit) are welcome on the boat anytime. Ryan – thanks for helping me paint the new shelves, and for assistance steering and soaking up the sun. Moe – thanks for the homegrown lemonade supplies. It was delicious, and helped us avoid scurvy a little longer. Chris and Lindsay – thanks for helping us sand and paint the rub rails, and for donating such awesome rope lights. It’s like a party on the boat, all the time! Matt’s dad – thanks for help troubleshooting the diesel engine, and for the oil transfer pump. There’s a seat with your name on it in the engine room. Jason, at Longacre Expeditions – for the swag and support and motivation. Zach, at Syzygy Wines – for the donation. What a kickass name! Can’t wait to raise a glass! Kati, at Rickshaw Bags – for the technical support with our new stowage system. Chris, onboard Vela – for letting us borrow your ingenious self-brushing brush. I hope Mexico is treating you well. Last but not least, thanks to the mystery mariner who’s left a variety of little goodies for us on the boat — a tub, zipties, some straps, a 1978 issue of Climbing magazine, a 1981 issue of Sports Illustrated, and an out-of-print guidebook to an obscure climbing area in Washington. You work in mysterious ways, amigo.

Mar 08 2009

WANTED: SEAWORTHY BOAT CAT

Tag: musingsjonny5waldman @ 5:28 am
Smart, responsible guy seeking cat to live onboard a small, clean, mouse-free sailboat. Cat must be trained to use litterbox and not get claustrophobic or seasick. Cat must not get scared near loud power tools or dig his/her claws into the sails or piss on the cushions or chew on electrical wires. Cat must not have allergies to epoxy or fiberglass. Cat must not mind swearing or heavy drinking or long, loud sea shanties. Ideally, cat would be a proficient swimmer. In a perfect world, cat would also be skilled at fishing and scaring away seagulls, and not mind drinking saltwater. International travel opportunities for the right cat. Ugly hairless cats need not apply. International applicants (with proper papers) are encouraged to apply. Applicants should submit a video demonstrating their abilities to Jonny. For reference purposes: *This cat does not meet requirements, and should be sent to aquatic school for further training. Pathetic. *This cat has sufficient swimming skills, and impressive navigational skills, but seems to lack the innate desire to attack ducks or go onto the boat. It would surely perish at sea. *This cat also has sufficient swimming skills, and a demonstrated ability to return to the boat, but it’s pretty slow and appears to need assistance. I’d consider this cat for an apprentice-level position. *This cat is perfect. Bold, assertive, strong, fearless, persistent. Note the cat’s skills with its claws: it doesn’t dig its claws into the inflatable dinghy, while it does use its claws to climb the rope. Impressive.

Mar 02 2009

Energy Accountability: Sources

Tag: energy efficiencymattholmes @ 9:56 pm

To document our energy budget, let’s start with the sources of our power. 

1. Sun: Solar Panels
Planned installation: two kyocera KC 85 panels mounted on top of the dodger, currently available at Wholesale Solar for $410 each.  They are 85W panels, and can be expected to output an average of 20Ah each, so 40Ah each day from solar.  Naturally, these numbers vary wildly depending on how sunny it is, how high the sun is in the sky, and whether our mainsail is blocking the sun from hitting them. 
daily contribution: 40Ah

2. Wind: Wind Generator
Planned installation: KISS wind generator, recommended by cruisers for its simplicity, quietness, and low startup speeds.  Cost: $995, not including the mounting of it.  Wind generators provide a decent amount of power in winds over 10 knots, and plenty of power when the wind is 15knots or above, but almost nothing below 10 knots.  So it is hard to estimate how much energy we’ll get from them on average.  The output curve of the KISS claims ~4A @ 5 knots (I’m skeptical) and 10A at 15 knots.  Let’s use a ballpark estimate of 4A for 10 hours a day average.
daily contribution: 40Ah

3. Water: Tow Generator
We own a tow generator that came with the boat–I do not know what brand it is or anything about it (there are no markings of any kind).  It mounts to the port toe-rail, and a 100ft line is tied to a propeller on a weighty shaft that drags behind the boat.  The propeller rotates, twisting the line, which then turns the generator.  From the various things I’ve read all over the internet, I expect it will produce 6 A at 6 knots of sailing speed, and in doing so slow down the boat by half a knot.  It’s difficult to estimate how fast we will be sailing on average–we’ll probably average right around 6 knots when we are sailing, so on passage we would derive 144Ah a day, but we’ll only sail on average one of three days, so call it another 40Ah a day.
daily contribution: 40Ah

Total clean energy sources: 120Ah per day

4. Diesel fuel: Engine Alternator
We have a "Silver Bullet" 165A alternator mounted on the engine.  After breaking the mounting bracket twice, the previous owners turned it down to a maximum output of ~110A.  This is considered a "high-output" alternator (stock alternators are 65A) and will produce the remainder of whatever our daily deficit ends up being, thereby balancing our energy budget.

Those of you out there who have more accurate estimates of daily production for the above sources, please share!