Solar power and the 30 mile hose

They invented the way we Americans perceive our seasons here in the Atlantic North East. By they I mean, most likely, Ben Franklin, didn’t he invent “all things American”? …Anyway when it went from February 27th to March 1st it was like flipping a switch from winter to spring and as we all know, springtime, especially March, means wind and rain. The weather reports were telling us that there would be an intense bout with wind and rain this week but only for Tuesday with the rest of the week shaping up to be perfect for our working projects. So on Monday we loaded up the bikes with everything we’d need for a good long ride and took off early.  We knew that it was going to be a big day, so we planned to eat breakfast along the way. Ahem. This story really starts on Friday.  In the rental car, we did as much running around as we could in our efforts to get the doomed refrigerator and the propane stove working.  Our last jaunt of the day was to Airgas in Waterford.  I had called them and the person on the phone said that, yes, they stocked all kinds of hoses already made up and, yes, 25 foot lengths were standard. When we got there (meaning when a mall sprung up in the middle of nowhere), we discovered that the person on the phone was a bad listener.  Though I had said I needed a 25 foot low pressure propane hose with female 3/8 inch flare fittings on each end, she must have heard 25 foot blah blah hose blah blah blah.  Cause all their hoses were for welding and air tools, not for propane. At the counter, the guy told us that they might be able to[…]

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The Unemployed

We got back to the community- shit, a million years ago- to discover that we were going to have a big (all) managers pow-wow in one of the unfinished 2nd floor apartments. We went up to the apartment, made ourselves comfortable and moments later were joined by the other two sets of managers. The lead managers showed up first, then the shit-heads and we got right down to it. The two leads told us when their last day of work would be and started talking about how there have been tensions and how “we” would “all” have to work together and respect each other and… I (James) jumped right in and asked the only question that I thought really mattered. “When are you two leaving?” I was speaking to the two shit-heads that have been lying about us and trying to make our lives miserable over the last five months.  They were supposed to go to their new community at the end of February or beginning of March. The response was a simple, “At least two more months.” The math made it’s way through my head… They weren’t leaving and our regional manager had already made them an offer to be the lead managers of the community and there was no fucking way I was going to work for those lying, cheating do-nothings so my response was simple. “There is no way I’m going to work with these two fucking clowns for even one more second.” Dena said, “Yeah, this won’t work.  We quit.  This is our last day.  Our last hour.  Our last 15 minutes.” Okay.  That’s done. Back to the boat.  Literally.  We jumped on our bikes and rode to the boat to finish the last day-off project – inserts to make the sinks usable as countertop space.[…]

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It’s not as fun when we’re not together

I woke up and Dena was standing above me dressed in her rain-riding gear. “There’s coffee, it’s yummy!” “Are you out of here?” “Yep, see you on the boat.” “Yes.” The kiss, the door, silence. I (James) drag myself out and pump the first two cups in before the crust of another sleepless night in this fucked up place has left my limited vision. The last of Cryptonomicon is coveted. When I’m alone in this place I feel attacked with no armor, so I’m out. With the bike and trailer packed I step out into the winter streets, into the rain. Before I’m even out of the community property I feel alone, it’s not as much fun. It’s not as much fun because when I’m by myself I tend to immerse myself in my week, in my past and before I know it I’m pushing myself to the limits of my abilities. In no time flat I’m drenched in my own viscousness, heart pumping, burning. I opt for the back country trail and almost immediately regret it but push on, I do. The snow is almost gone but what is left is thick and hard on a bed of cold wet earth that sucks my wheels deep in its grasp.   The trail that we have come to know so well is unrecognizable in its present state. The trees have fallen over what was once a manicured urban refuge and the sludge is so thick in places that it can stop a biker cold. When I stop it’s a surgical procedure to remove the bike from the sucking mess. After a while I regain  the machine of the ride. The legs, the lungs, the heart, the perspiration, the twin jets of steam ejecting from my nostrils, all in sync, all a[…]

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The Install begins

This week, we made it to the boat. The streets were clear, but the paved trail was still raw snow.  Turning back, we made stab at the back country trail.  We could only ride across small patches, which left us with about 3 miles worth of pushing the bikes and slogging through snow that was up to 2 feet deep. Sweaty work.  Very hard to do. When we got off the trail in Mumford Cove, we cheered each other and relished the smooth roll over pavement.  And then it was straight to work. The project for the day – priming everything. From: To: The smell was so foul that we couldn’t stay in the boat.  Cold air doesn’t move very fast and fumes don’t dissipate.  In summertime, we can do a project like this and go for food (exactly what we did).  When we come back, we can do another project or just relax aboard.  Not in the winter. So we went to a movie.  Quartet.  Good movie, enjoyable.  I don’t think the big screen was a critical component of our enjoyment, but the big sound system rocked the Bach and Verdi.  But you have to know – we didn’t have to go to this movie.  We live this life.  The only element that was missing from what we live on a daily basis – ours isn’t a home for retired artists, and their estate was definitely not a dump like the place we live. By the way, going to a movie means another 6 mile bike ride each way.  This time, in the dark and freezing cold.  We moaned and groaned a bit, but the light exercise (we took it easy) felt good after the morning’s labor. Next day, we turned our attention to installing the hatches in the[…]

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A shelf and a drawer

This week we didn’t get to do a whole lot of work on the boat, I mean we worked, as you shall see but we did more riding our bikes through the insistent  snow than actual work on the boat. Back at the community we loaded up the bike-trailer with all the pieces of Azek that we cut to form on Monday night. Then we rode. Just after the crack of dawn we rode from Groton to Noank on a thick carpet of freshly dropped frozen precipitation and unloaded the trailer at the marina about 45 minutes later. We had about an hour before Dena’s eye exam so we thought we’d put the new dry-goods shelf in place and do the fiberglass so it could dry while we were gone. Then we rode to Mystic through the gently sloping Connecticut rivers edge. It snowed on us constantly the entire ride but it didn’t seem to matter much, the scenery was spectacular. When we got to Mystic Dena headed over to her eye-exam while I settled in at Bartleby’s for a relaxing day of reading and sipping coffee imported from the Mexican mountains. All the while it snowed, a light late winter feathering that covered the already picturesque town of Mystic painting a perfect postcard. …And it was all day. I (James) am reading a most fascinating book, Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson. It’s about all the things that Neil Stephenson writes about, computer culture, codes and breaking them and the thing that I think stimulates him as a writer more than anything else, the concept of a Universal Machine. Cryptonomicon is a 918 page future door stop that helped me pass the time quite nicely, so, by the time Dena showed up just after dark my feet had thawed, my mind[…]

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Now let’s put it in place

… But first, let’s fix that bilge pump, lest we lose another night’s sleep! Notice my (James’) new hair cut!  Doesn’t it look great with my hands in the bilge? Lying awake in the middle of the night back at the community, I fantasized about how dreadful this job was going to be.  Covering my entire body with bilge muck, screaming and cussing, wishing that I could just…smoke a cigarette…take a shotgun and blow seven holes into the hull of that boat and just watch it sink… With the Rule SuperSwitch, there’s a hole for a fastener at the forward end.  There’s also a notch under the float for a second fastener, in a place that is designed by a truly insane human being.  You cannot get to it with any tool.  You have to set the fastener up first…remember, this is in the oily, stinky, freezing bilge…put it at the perfect depth, slide the notch around the fastener, and then tighten the whole thing down with the forward fastener. I’ve done this job before and it never takes less than 3 hours.  But this time, the old switch literally came apart in my hands.  It just disintegrated.  I set the screw at the perfect depth and slid the switch onto it the very first time. I clipped all the wires down, hooked everything up, did all the shrink wrap, and the whole job took about an hour. The most important thing about this picture: when using a very powerful hand tool, you should always look at your job. But damn, I look good. Did I mention I got a haircut? There it is.  That’s all the bilge pump you’ll ever see.  In the upper left corner of the photo above?  That’s the bilge pump switch – with both auto[…]

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Primary Mock-Up

This week we took all of the measurements we’ve been doing over the past month and applied them to our sheets Azek. Each sheet started out 4 feet by 8 feet and our working space is almost exactly 6 feet long  by a little under four feet wide so we had plenty of material to work with and then some for our drawers and cabinets that we will build into the installed unit. The new sink is much bigger than the old one (74cm wide) and has a somewhat domestic appeal, it has two very large, very deep, pans. Instead of cutting one big hole for the sink we laid the sink out on the cut-out Azek, up-side-down, and drew out the hole cuts on the Azek. Then we measured them out for exactness. We punched a small hole, just big enough for the saw blade, in the Azek and cut the holes precisely the right size to fit the sink in, you’ll see why in a second. After that we had to practically shave out little pieces with the jig-saw here and there to get the sink to fit but it did and we put it into place. Then we mocked the whole thing up just like it will be on the boat. As you can see, we used the sink cut-out pieces as lid-cutting boards for the sink pans. The right side of the image will be the new settee while the left cut-out will be the new place for the stove. We rented a car and took all the pieces that are too big to fit in the bike trailer to the boat to fit them into place. Once we got to the boat we discovered the bilge pump had stopped working so we had to dedicate[…]

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