Ok, well, it’s day… six? I guess. Day six of officially living on the boat fulltime. This is the first day with any doubts.

Of *course* it’s raining, and it’s grey and cold outside, just like yesterday. It’s also very windy out, with gale warnings last night that had me keeping an eye on my GPS long into the night. Furthermore I haven’t had any coffee for two days, because my water supply has somehow become tainted, and my stove isn’t working properly.

The water I suspect I may have had a hand in. On Saturday I noticed that an old can of paint that came with the boat was leaking from the bottom seal. The paint was “bottom paint”, for painting the underwater portion of the boat, and as such is very nasty stuff, full of heavy metals. The paint was black, but whatever was leaking out of the bottom of the can was sticky and green, and made a big mess on the carpet – given the chemicals involved, this was the very definition of “toxic waste”! When I went to clean it up (wearing heavy protective gloves, removing and throwing out the carpet, scraping the underfloor with a scraper, and laying down new carpet), I noticed that it had also leaked through the floorboards and into the bilge, where it had pooled in a small corner. Lucky for me – if the leak had been two inches to the right, it would have gone into an extremely difficult place to clean. As it was though it was contained to a small area, and so I took up the floorboards, stood on the water tank, and cleaned up the toxic waste.

As I stood on it, the tank flexed a little, though nothing terrible – the tanks are made of heavy white plastic and bulge a bit when they’re full. I suspect however that this flexing is why my water now has a distinct yellow tinge. I don’t really know what to do about this, besides flush the tanks and start fresh, and to do that I need to pull the anchor and head up the creek to the filling station. I’m guessing there might be something I could do involving bleach? WestMarine sells some kind of water tank freshener stuff, but it’s pretty pricy and who knows what it actually is. I think I’m going to try adding 1/4 cup of bleach to the tanks, fill them, flush them out, then fill them again and see what that does.

The stove I think I may have figured out – it’s been throwing a lot less heat lately and a lot more soot, but I managed to find a manual for it online and it appears that it’s pretty much half poorly configured and half me not knowing how to use it properly. There’s a fan (unconnected of course) on the bottom of the stove that needs to be powered up in order for the burner to get the right draft needed to vaporize the diesel fuel, and right now it’s just not getting that draft. I’m thinking that probably what’s happened is that the fan not being on has caused the stove to produce more soot, which has clogged the air intake, causing the stove to produce even *more* soot. I think all it will need is a good cleaning and for the wiring to be set up to provide power for the fan, but man. Have you ever touched diesel soot? That stuff is black as night, and since it’s oil-based you need soap and water to get it off of you – no amount of rubbing on your pants will suffice. I do not look forward to being up to my elbow in the stuff, but if it means I can have a hot dinner then it must be done.

…but not today.

God. Just a constant barrage of new, tangible problems. In one way it’s really nice to have to use not only my brain to diagnose problems and work out solutions, but also to get my hands dirty actually implementing those solutions. Still, it’s dirty, difficult work, and my hands are not only dirty but scraped, cut, bruised, bandaged, rough and sore.

I’ve already done so much to make the boat a better place to live, but there’s still *so* much more to do! In order of priority:

  • Figure out what’s up with the water. Do I need new tanks? Hope not, apparently tanks are expensive, like >$200 each. :/
  • Figure out what’s up with the stove. Can I fix it myself, or do I need a repair guy? Apparently the company that made the stove is in Coquitlam, so assuming they still exist I should be able to get someone out here if I need to.
  • Gut and rebuild the abysmal electrical system. This means both dropping another $1000 on batteries, possibly yet *another* $1000 on a charge management system (one that will allow me to eventually add photovoltaics to the system), ripping out every last bit of the current wiring and re-doing it all to my spec.
  • While I’m on the wiring tip – I’ve purchased some LED lighting that works *really* well, but I have yet to find fixtures that have switches on them, so for now those lights sit in their boxes unloved. They’re awesome though, they’re the exact same size as typical halogen lighting and they’re a “warm” yellowish light that doesn’t at all feel like typical LED lighting. Very impressed! They were $20/per bulb at the electronics supply store, but compared to $185/per (!!!) for fixtures with similar bulbs at West Marine, I’m pretty pleased.
  • Clean the boat – can’t believe I haven’t done this yet, actually. I need to borrow a friend’s power washer, and from that I’ll determine if I actually need to purchase a small one of my own.
  • Finish repairing the fiberglass problems on the main deck – the more I finish, the more I find. They’re not huge, but they do need attention, and I don’t really feel like painting the deck until the problems are all fixed. A couple of good, solid days of grinding and sanding and epoxy/fiberglass patching and sanding and patching and sanding and filling and sanding and priming and I’ll be done.
  • Paint the deck. This will mean a lot of taping off areas, laying down anti-skid paint, then the final coat of deck paint over top. I’ve been thinking of doing some different colors on the horizontal areas; we’ll see when the time comes.
  • Purchase and install a macerator pump. Basically, it’s a pump that takes all the shit (literally) in the holding tank, runs it through a set of stainless steel teeth to chop it into fine bits, and pumps it out into the ocean. This is illegal in False Creek or any other public harbour, but totally fair game out on the open ocean – and sure beats having to pump out the tank every week or so.
  • Pull the boat out of the water ($400 or so) and paint the bottom – this will take a few days, and a few more hundred dollars, but needs to be done. I’m just praying that I don’t find any soft spots in the hull, because that would signify rot, and that would be very bad and cost even more to fix.
  • Argh. On top of all the boat work, I’ve got just over a month to come up with and practice a 45-minute talk on cloud computing for the Open Web Vancouver conference. I’m pretty confident that I can be educational and entertaining for 45 minutes, but it will still mean a lot of work to get it all together, make slides, practice, etc.

    Anyhow. The stove is lit, and I’ve got some bottled water in the stovetop percolator – in an hour or so I should have coffee. Today I have to continue working on porting one of the gossip sites into the clouds – I’ve committed to having it up and running by Wednesday night, and I don’t want to blow any more deadlines, so back to work I go.