Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hurry up and Wait

Its hard to believe that these are our last weeks  aboard Tara. The boys sense that something is up. I 'm not sure exactly how they know, because other then taking a stack of books over to Me Voy, we haven't done much.

Our inaction, is neither procrastination nor laziness.

 In this somewhat complicated web that we have woven, everything is interdependent, and right now everything depends on getting Me Voy hauled to do her bottom. After this we can bring her over to the marina, bring aboard everything that we are keeping, pack up the last missing link, Billy, and head over to the new marina and our awesome new slip, which I have been busily securing over the last few weeks.

Then the fun really begins, as we spruce up Tara, and cross our fingers for a quick sale.

Anyway I feel like some major hurdles have been crossed, namely getting a new slip, doing our taxes, and scheduling our haul our for May 4th.

And  perhaps it needs to be mentioned here that Travis has worked on getting Me Voy ready for us by  installing new berth and head lights, getting Mr. Perkins purring, fixing a leaky faucet, installing a cat door to Billy's litter box, making new boarding steps, all in between polishing escalator parts at work.

 So, despite all this craziness we are keeping it mellow, enjoying the moments as they come.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Decade Ago...

Travis hopped a Greyhound bus, and moved into my "house".

Us, ten years ago living in a van in Cali.
A few months later, we were down to our last $23. The plan, retirement at 26, hit a few snags.

What followed was a series of jobs, synchronicities and schemes that landed us in Arizona, aboard a donated Airstream camper, in the middle of nowhere, living on "borrowed" land and time.

Homesteading by amateurs. 
Clearing a driveway
The middle of nowhere was as good as anywhere.

Our existence  was a circular one.

We drove to the flea market on weekends. This served the dual purpose of charging batteries we kept behind the driver's seat, which powered our " homestead" for the week, and unloading our "products" which we made using the power provided by the said batteries. Life was a precarious affair punctuated by water hauling, battery charging, naked hacky-sacking and wild dancing by the fire pit.

We made "Rollerboards" that we sold at the weekly flea market to support our "retirement"

We scraped by like this for a few months. Our creative energy was high, but our funds could never  match our ambitions. Experiments with wind generators proved too costly, solar panels were beyond our means. We were heavily dependent on the car, as our means of transport and power, and it too needed maintenance we could hardly afford. When it finally exhaled its last carbon monoxide sigh, and quietly rolled to a stop, we were facing a grim reality. Retirement cost money and we had none.

Living in the RV park
So we did what anyone in our situation would do, we began working with mentally retarded people. Oddly enough it was a job we could relate to.

As our cash flow became steady, our thoughts turned away from the failed attempt at self sustainability. We moved out of the desert and into an RV park. Ironically, here we were surrounded by retirees or "snow birds" as they are called in Arizona. We watched these creatures, observed their migration patterns, studied their habits and nesting patterns.

This time of watching and learning the ways of the "snow birds", tempered our wild desire for freedom with the patience needed to earn such a freedom. The world didn't owe us anything. The desert didn't care how many great ideas we had, or how special we thought we were. That vast, hot landscape was impersonal in her judgements. If our preparations for life in that land were inadequate, that land would claim was what hers and cover it with a layer of dust. The only protection against such a fate was ... the set up.

This education in The Art of The Set-up, brings us to where we are today, celebrating our ten year anniversary aboard TARA, a key ingredient to our current scheme.

Ten years ago I could have not imagined that we would be living aboard one glorious yacht and ready to move aboard another. The lesson of the desert, the teachings of the "snow birds" and our own past failures at "freedom" are coming full circle. And this time around, at least for the moment, we find ourselves on the upswing.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Not Making a Splash

Those eighteenth century people were just wacky!

Everyone poops. This stinky subject is quite taboo in polite conversation, however if you ever speak with a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner, you will not be able to avoid the topic. That's because how we poop, when, and other specifics regarding the final product, are important in determining your overall health. But I digress.

On a boat, there are, as far as I can see four ways (not including the above method) of dealing with this daily ritual. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. 
1.There are holding tanks that store waste and get pumped out regularily.  These take up space, can be stinky or worse leaky! 
2. There is the direct overboard method, illegal except for three miles off shore. Have I ever done it, yes, but I have not felt good about it, as the water is clearly no place to poop in!  
3.There is the holding it and going to the land head method. I think we can all relate to this one, and know how uncomfortable that could be. 
4.The composting toilet.  These must be emptied into a trash bag and disposed of on land. There is the inconvenience factor of having to store a brick of composting material, and the general weirdness of pooping and not hearing a splash.

And we thought multitasking was a 21st century thing!

To us the answer was a no duh. The composting toilet is by far the best option for us. After talking to some people, and doing our own research, we chose Nature's Head Composting Toilet.

Nature's Head Composting Toilet installed 

We talked to  people who have this toilet and they all recommended it.The nifty thing about this design is that it separates the liquids from the solids , which eliminates odors and makes for good (usable but not on edible plants) compost. The liquid is stored in the jug you see with the black strap, and the other deposit falls thru the big opening. There is a handle on the side that is used to stir the peat moss, which mixes everything including toilet paper together. This gets emptied into a bag when the bin is 3/4 full and used or disposed of.  This should be done 6-8hrs.  after the last use, as that is how long it takes for the fecal bacteria to no longer be present. 
Ok, that's all fine, but is this thing really gonna be fresh and clean? Does this separation thing really work? After using it for a while, it does seem, that because of the design, the liquid is directed into the two holes in the front, even while the big hole is open. 

OK this is something I didn't want to ask, wanted to know, and now will answer. What about streaks? Because of the opening is so big, the deposit goes straight down to the compost bin without touching the sides, so no streak issue. Phew.

We have only had this toilet several days, but so far so good. No smell at all. Only the good feeling of making a  real contribution ;)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's Electric!

We have been shopping around for an electric motor for our dinghy, Miss Gen. I didn't want to spend more then 100 bucks on it, since we weren't sure it would be strong enough to work for us. So when this 55 lb thrust appeared on Craigslist, we snatched it up, and gave it a test drive. The verdict:  we aren't going anywhere fast, but it does push us along fairly quick. Its also super quiet, easy to mount, and best of all uses no gas! 

Billy is always so curious to see what we're up to, but too scared to follow us.  I hope in time to get him riding the dinghy. He's very intrigued by it, and smells Chopper from head to foot whenever we get back from a jaunt.