Making Boat Karma

For those of you who have a vision of Ron and Yen,  lounging in the sunshine,  spending sweet blissful filled days with whispering winds caressing us as we lay under swaying palm trees   ....   well that is some of the time but ..... ! 

Sailing is work.  Very high priority work.  Our lives depend on it.  There are no gas stations or repair shops on the ocean or nothing in remote humanless anchorages.  Although one may be able to get emergency help up to about 20 miles offshore costing mega dollars, we take complete responsibility for our own safety.  Powerful motivation to stay ship shape!

We do all of the work on the boat ourselves.  We hire help only when we need extra specialized skills,  but in order to sail around the world without going broke, we have to do virtually all the work ourselves.

So it is in our hands, to insure we are safe.  We like to think of this in terms of boat Karma

Moonlight has a reservoir of Karma.  We add to the Karma reservoir by preparing ourselves and the boat.  When we are at sea or in challenging sea conditions, we  draw upon the Karma to stay out of trouble.   

The more Karma we put in,  the more Karma we can take out.  With a full reservoir of Karma, we can cross oceans with few worries and we will be safe.

So in preparing for off shore crossings,  we fill up the Karma reservoir by fixing everything,  checking everything and doing our best to insure all systems - including our bodies and minds are 110% functional (that means no drinking or partying until we puke before any departure day or anytime for that matter).  

That is boat Karma.  Boat Karma is worth about 100 times more than boat paper insurance.  Paper insurance is betting on failure,  but in terms of looking after ourselves and betting on success,  boat Karma is way more valuable.  We have thousands of hours of boat Karma.  And while underway we try to keep that Karma reservoir topped up.

Of course, the most important item is the food.  Yen has become a gourmet chef personally trained by Martha Stewart (over the internet that is).  Her meal preparation is to die for but we only eat twice a day so nutrition is everything.  Her chemical engineering background expresses itself into her preparation.  My job is clean-up after her as she is not allowed to do the cleaning after all that work.  Maybe a nap first then clean up. 

So here are some of the latest Karma investments put into Moonlight in October/November/December 2006 ......

12–volt Power.  We love power and the more the better.  Once away from the dock, sun, wind and diesel fuel is the extent of our potential energy sources.  The batteries store this energy for use when we need it.  So we replaced our four year old lead acid 8D Sea Volt 225 amp-hr batteries with six Trojan Group 27 deep cycle lead acid types with a 115 amp-hr rating per battery for a total of 690 amp-hrs.  That does not sound like much but it gives us our ice and cold water and meat frozen all the time.  Since I am totally geeked out on batteries and electricity due to a past life as an electronic technician before engineering, this is a pet subject.  Now with sufficient power for blenders, toasters and movies, refrigerator, freezer, watermaker and on and on, it so cool to see these new batteries last forever before a required recharge.  Here is a long dissertation on care of batteries that may have some value for cruisers.  These new batteries “fit” so well with the solar panels, wind generator, Xantrex alternator controllers and Pathfinder plus all the new wiring that was installed two years ago and the almost new 140 amp DC Gen-Set.  Nothing like rebuilding an electrical system from scratch and these batteries were the last of the puzzle. 

Sound insulation.  We operate the genset (6hp Kobota engine driving a 140 amp alternator) (which I installed over a year ago) every day for one hour in the morning and almost one in the evening.  Doing that as quiet as possible adds to our pleasantness so we removed all the old rotten engine room sound insulation and installed this great new stuff that actually has resulted in a quieter boat.   

New cabin fans.  We installed four new Hella-Turbo fans in the salon and galley and forward stateroom to move air when no breeze is available.  These fans are the best as they are quiet and push air effortlessly at 0.1 amps.  Now we live in comfort when the temperatures go over 90 degrees.

New insulation on Refrigerator/Freezer doors.  We installed this great Buna-N gasket insulation on the top loading doors on both and front door on the refrigerator and now the running time has dropped to less than half what it was previously.  On for four minutes, off for 30 minutes.  This is a greatly improved battery savings while operating 12v compressors for cooling purposes in the tropics.  I also installed a new control module in the freezer that has improved its overall operation.  In addition, foam rubber was added around the condensers to improve their airflow performance.  All this is from an expert advise with his books for sale.  

New 9505 Satellite phone:  The old one just did not work worth two cents.  This new one works every time all the time any where on the planet earth.  Nice addition to phone home while just hanging out in the tropics or when we have emergencies.

New Garmin 478C Chartplotter:  Definite upgrade compared to our old 176.  It has forward looking sonar, weather download display (all for an additional sum of cash).  Best of all it has the latest notice to mariners additions updated on the charts that are included in the data cards and can operate off of its own battery power for 12 hours.   Also every chart of any region is available electronically.   Moonlight also carries a plastic sextant.  If all the electronics blow out, I should be able to determine a position accurate within 50 miles or so after studying how to use the sextant and reduction tables for a couple of weeks.

More backups and spares:  Continuing addition of spare parts and backups.  Rebuilt autopilot motor and pump plus a ram (but then there is always sheet to wheel fittings as the last resort - Yen looks at me with - ya right - I only push the autopilot buttons, dude).  Add that to the staggering number of spares already on the boat and you could almost outfit a second Moonlight.  

Radar repair:  A lightning strike near the boat during the summer spelled death to the radar dome.  After many repairs and iterations plus twenty times up the mast, it is now operational.  Very valuable during night crossings with limited visibility.

New Caribe L10 dingy.  The old inflatable floor and soft bottom PVC dingy just does not last in the tropics and landing on coral reefs, etc.  So a new 10 ft. rigid bottom Caribe Lights L-10 dingy bought in the free zone of Colon for 2/3 of what they cost in the US was the answer.  Anyone want to buy a used inflatable - oops sold - one persons castaway is another persons treasure.

Wax and Gelcoat repair:  Who ever said there is no maintenance to fiberglass!  It is a constant effort to keep it shining and looking like the boat has not been abandoned.  So upon return this year, it was wax the deck, the awlgrip, the hull not once but twice.  This ritualistic activity is carried out every few months to keep this boat looking like someone actually lives on it.  It does not add too much to Karma other than we feel good that it does shine in some places for a while.  And it looks nice to see water bead up when it constantly rains as a source of cheap cruiser entertainment.  It is also a great arm conditioner (wax on, wax off).  

The list goes on towards ad infinite.  

A new Walking Foot sewing machine for the several sewing jobs that need be completed since Cora the sewing expert is in Roatan.  But we needed one anyway.  Included is a nice case

Replacement of damaged running rigging.  Rope from Minney's Yacht Surplus is the right price and great quality. 

But the most important is the air conditioning sea water recirculating pump allowing the AC to run 24/7.  The old one failed the day before we traveled away from the boat and was repaired the day after arriving - priorities in the right place here. 

I could go on about my documented maintenance programs, but by now your eyes are probably too heavy to continue.  This is a constant job so I better get to work and quit messing with this web site.

But do not let me spoil your fantasy of the cruising life.  Go ahead and think we do nothing but sun tan, swim and kayak around swaying palm trees and enjoy endless magnificent sunsets.  This cruising is just an incredible, fascinating, enjoyable life.