Saturday, October 24, 2009

Let There Be Light!

Some women love jewelry. Some women love flowers and chocolate. The way to this girl’s heart is through proper lighting. For the past year, I’ve been working online from Mother Culture’s settee: a not-so-ergonomically-correct table and seating area with extremely poor lighting. Until yesterday, the only working light in the main cabin was a wall-mounted fixture (circled in green) hung such that any person seated beneath it would unwittingly cast a shadow across the table (aka: my desk/work area). Each time I needed to write something down, I’d politely nod my head in order to shed some light on the situation. You might notice there are two light fixtures on the wall above the settee, but don’t let that fool you. Of the five fixtures throughout the main cabin, only two are wired for 12-volt electricity (one of which does not currently work). We don’t use 110-volt (nor do we ever intend to) since we live on solar power.

We (meaning Ben) had intended to rewire the boat and install super-energy-efficient LED lights in strategic locations throughout. A few weeks ago, he purchased one LED light as a sort of lighting experiment. Let’s just say the experiment went awry. He replaced the old wall fixture (circled in green, top left) with the new LED light (below, right). While the energy consumption was all we ever dreamed of, the light itself shone like a blinding, sterile floodlight, burning the retinas of anyone who dared enter our cabin. And I had the misfortune of trying to work beneath that light. Despite its floodlight qualities, it failed to illuminate the cabin as one might imagine.

Yesterday, Ben worked his magic and hung a pretty little fluorescent light (circled in red, top left) directly above the settee table. He replaced the LED eye-scorcher with the old 12-volt fixture, and moved the LED light into the V-berth where nary an eye should ever be cursed to glimpse it again. And I’m actually excited to work when the sun goes down. (Well, perhaps less excited about work and more excited about trying out the new lighting. Thanks again, Ben. :)

(Side note: We still intend to use LED lights in the future, after more research into soft white LED lighting.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Blue Heaven

What you see here is the bottom of my dinghy with a fresh, slick coat of bottom paint. Ben surprised me when I got home from school yesterday... He'd hauled out Dinghy, cleaned her bottom, and painted her a lovely shade of blue. I wish I had a *Before* picture for comparison, but since I don't, I can tell you that Dinghy tends to get pretty bogged down with marine hitchhikers each month. Ben typically cleans her bottom about once a month (yes, I am a lucky gal!)... around the time when her slimy sea skirt hangs 6 to 8 inches beneath the surface of the water. As you can imagine, that extra growth is heavy, which makes for slower rowing.

With her new blue bottom, she glides through the water like a knife through butter. And since the slimy sea creatures won't be able to latch on as easily, she won't need to be cleaned as often. So... does anyone wanna race?? ;)

Monday, October 12, 2009


Those of you who don't know me well may not realize I walk the line of misanthropy. (Hence, living on a sailboat.) Here is one reason for my indignation:

Recently, I pedaled over to the Sheraton to take a shower. (Please bear in mind, I said Sheraton. Not Ritz Carlton.) There are three showers in the women's locker room - two single stalls and one handicapped. After securing my belongings in my locker, I grabbed a towel and headed over to the showers, only to find that some wretched pig apparently thought she was too highfalutin to pick up after herself. I would imagine it was a mother and her children, as *all three* stalls had been littered with wet, filthy towels and washcloths. It seems impossible to me that one oinker could do all this damage herself... and highly unlikely that three separate pigs made their mark. I'd venture to say it was one big sow passing bad habits on to her little piglets. I actually had to clean up after the swine... just one more reason in a growing list of why I'm losing faith in humanity, one pork chop at a time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long Awaited

The previous owner of our boat had outfitted her with a 400-disc DVD changer and a flat screen television. Because of my obsession with everything feng shui, I loathe clutter and rid myself of my meager DVD collection years ago. Ben loathes clutter, too, I'd assume because when I met him, he came complete with an outfit, a backpack and a laptop. Needless to say, we had no use for a DVD player, much less a 400-disc DVD changer, so we gave it away to a friend who, I'm guessing, still has yet to load a single DVD into that monster. The TV had to go, too, for many reasons, but mainly because every time we sat at the settee, we bumped our heads on it.

Here are the before pictures:

The giant hole in the side of our navigation station/closet was once home to that monster DVD player. Because of this hole, we've not had a hanging rod in our closet for more than fourteen months. During that time, we've been storing our clothes in deep, dark crevices of Mother Culture. This makes for difficult searches and lots of wrinkles. Being female, one of my main concerns on this boat was closet space. I like to think of myself as a "Master Organizer" (can't you tell by the mess in the bottom of the closet- pictured above?!), but organization on a boat can feel a bit defeating. The storage spaces are oddly shaped, mostly deep and dark, typically in hard-to-reach or inconveniently-located spaces. It's enough to drive a girl crazy. This week, I decided to do something about it. With a little help from my Ben, we reconstructed a wall on which to secure a closet pole which will: 1) offer a new (better) place to hang clothes and 2) open up some of the more obscure storage spaces for other messes (such as the one pictured above in the bottom of the closet!)

Here are the after pictures:

Eventually we will find a painting or other cool decoration to hang over the unsightly hole.


NEVER leave food unattended

Do Over

Butterfinger Breakfast

Calling All Gulls

(Please note: Objects in video appear closer than they really are.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gas Guzzler

Yesterday, before I busted my foot, we ran into a roadblock on the embarcadero because this mega-yacht was getting fueled up. Believe it or not, this yacht holds 48,000 gallons (!!) of fuel and it takes around an hour to pump the fuel from one tanker into the yacht. Obviously, the owner of this boat doesn't see the importance of Going Green.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Lesson in Humility

I remember in high school, my good friend V got into a minor car accident and our Latin teacher described it as a "lesson in humility." At the time, I didn't really understand what that meant. Since then, I've taken a few classes on the subject.

I've never thought of myself as an extremist. I tend to err on the side of caution. Blood makes me queasy. I don't like dirt... or bruises or scrapes or anything that burns, stings or itches. I like to think of my skin as a blank canvas... and I like to keep it that way.

Perhaps one could suggest that living on a sailboat is a bit extreme. (Well, for those of us on a mooring field anyway. There's nothing extreme about living in a slip with electricity and a wooden walkway leading from your boat to land.) Sailboat living seems free and easy, but there is a lot of hard work involved. My blank canvas is usually tinted with shades of brown and blue or purple, and sometimes red.

Sometimes we do something stupid and we just wish we could take it back... rewind ten minutes or twenty minutes or an hour. I felt that way earlier today when I got angry at the noisy fender on my 1970's Columbia 3-speed and decided to kick it with my flip-flopped foot while pedaling down the embarcadero. Problem is, I never was good at kicking because I always kick with my toes instead of the side of my foot. In this instance, my toes missed the fender and slipped neatly between the spokes of my bicycle tire. If you've never tried this yourself, you might be surprised at the fantastic stopping power of a foot wedged between the spokes of a wheel. For the first time in my life, I succeeded at doing a stoppie! I landed with such grace - the only parts of my canvas that were painted were the bottom of my foot and a tiny spot on my elbow (plus a little three dimensional sculpture in the form of swelling). It doesn't hurt the foot as much as the ego, but it doesn't tickle either. (The tickling comes later when your boyfriend is trying to disinfect the cut on the bottom of your foot). Luckily, the pain in the ego fades a little quicker than the physical pain. Just the same, I wouldn't recommend trying this extreme sport at home, kiddos. I only wish I had a video to share with you all.