M/V DESERT VENTURE
Voyage Preparation I
April 14, 2009
Though I have plenty I could still tell you about the past winter, spring is upon us,and it is voyage preparation time. In some respects, we spent the winter preparing for the 2009 cruising season. We are always busy doing one project or another, just as most folks do, who have a home. But, we do much of our maintenance and projects with the intent to make our cruising safe, comfortable, and worry free – as much as possible.
Captain spends untold time thinking about all the systems on the boat from the laundry to the engines, and generally not in that order. With all that thought come long lists of things to check, to update, to upgrade, to repair or replace, and finally to test all that can be tested. As he and I work through the list invariably new items get added to “The List”. As we come down to the last three weeks before departure the list takes on all new meaning and control of our time and attention. We have fined tuned our maintenance to the point, one would think that we have full control of the whole situation – never a surprise or a glitch or a burp…yeah, right! Amazing as it seems to us, all sorts of small issues have been revealing themselves. We find it curious and a relief at the same time. After all, how did the galley faucet know that it needed to spring a leak three and a half weeks before departure, giving us time to order and receive a perfect replacement part – or the fly bridge intercom phone, or the thingy that holds our shower head in our shower, or…we are uncertain of the next uncertainty! But so far, we are still in control, have the time and resources to fix, repair, or replace before departure. Now hear this – all about-to-fail parts and pieces please step forward!!!
There was time this winter to hunt down some nagging issues that we have been living with since we bought the boat in 2002. We have done untold major projects over the years, but the ones we addressed this winter had not affected our comfort or safety. They made some activities a nuisance that we put up with as bigger and more important issues were addressed. We had a nagging low voltage alarm that alarmed a great deal of the time, though not so low as to cause a problem, but loud enough that we had this quiet ringing in our ears after we shut the engines down. Captain spent hours with voltage meters and all sorts of drawings of wiring and has improved a large portion of the issue. If the rain stops long enough, and we can stay at home long enough (instead of racing everywhere for parts and pieces) he thinks the rest of the problem will be resolved by opening up the fly bridge console and cleaning up some connections.
Refueling the boat is something we have to do – at least occasionally. We carry 1400 gallons of fuel and so we can go awhile before refueling. (We never wait until its empty, though!) It is absolutely necessary to take extreme caution when filling the tanks that there is no overflowing tank that would allow fuel in the water. We are very conservative in our methods and watch every ounce like a hawk – aside from the large stack of paperwork and potentially large fine that is involved, we would be paying for lost fuel, too. So, we are very attentive when we refuel. However, all that being said, our forward fuel tank’s vent was installed improperly during the building of the boat. The vent was below the fill and so it would not allow air to escape and fuel to fill the tank without us burping it often, as we would start getting fuel out the vent – only a few drips, which we were prepared to catch, but still drips. The process of filling this tank, babying it for long periods of time was a nuisance, frustrating, and hard on my knees, as I knelt on the deck to manage the nozzle. Captain was on the dock watching the vent and catching errant drips. Well, ha! That should be a thing of the past. Though we haven’t fueled since the proper adjustment of the vent hose, we expect our next fueling to be a lot less stressful.
The change in the fuel vent was a result of removing old laundry appliances. They were not working properly, and it was time to replace them. It was a huge bonus when we realized, with them out, that we had full access to the fuel vent line. So, with the advent of replaced laundry appliances, came the repair of the fuel vent. We love it when we get two for the price of one!
We decided, almost at the last moment, to make some galley improvements. So, in March we got carpenters in to make cabinets where a trash compacter and an apartment size dishwasher had been. We removed the trash compacter a winter ago, when we installed the propane cooktop. We had a nice big opening for the same purpose the rest of the year. We continued to keep the dishwasher, though it only washed dishes one time. After seeing how much time it took, the water and power it used, we decided it was easier to just wash the dishes ourselves. Also, Captain is a great help in the galley, and always helps out so it never takes long to get things done in the galley. I named the dishwasher “The Biggest Cookie Jar On Earth”. Real estate on a boat is very limited and quite expensive and though we didn’t use the dishwasher for its intended purpose, didn’t mean it could just sit there, doing nothing and taking up valuable space. It was always fun, when showing the boat to people who marveled at having a dishwasher on board, what was really in the machine. In general I keep such great goodies on board that I always got a smile and a thumbs up.
Along with all the boat maintenance, repairs, replacements, etc., we were busy making a summer cruising provisioning list. There are generally groceries and markets every where we go, but they don’t always carry a full selection, and the prices are in direct relationship to how out of the way the market is located. We have learned there are certain products we must bring with us. We take into consideration the fact that we generally are doing grocery shopping on foot the rest of the season. Some items can get big, bulky, and heavy for toting long distances from stores back to the boat. My goal is to make sure I have all the basic items that fit the above description. I also stock up on basic items that have no expiration date and as many of our very favorite foods that will fit, to get us partway through the season. By provisioning ahead, our shopping becomes more of an adventure. We are, for the most part, shopping for fresh vegetables, milk, bread, and all the intriguing specialties of whatever shop we come across. It is always fun and interesting to go to a new market.
About the time I think I am fully provisioned, we use something up, as we are still living and using provisions and not underway. So, it is back on “The List” – again.
We are almost ready – for Cruising 2009