Adventure Time!

Drew and Miya, pirates at large
pirates at large!

Lately it’s been difficult to find time to post here on the blog, as things have been moving forward at a fantastic (or even alarming) rate. It has come to my attention that I haven’t even posted about the moving-forward Plan, and a deadline is approaching fast!

One major change: Miya and I have gotten back together.  Though at times we’re at odds with one another our bond is fierce and beautiful, and we’ll face the upcoming years shoulder-to-shoulder. She will soon be again living full-time on the boat.

So! Without further ado, the Plan:

  • Stop being a directionless cubicle drone
  • Purchase and move onto a sailboat
  • Live aboard in Vancouver
  • Make the boat offshore-ready – almost complete
  • Sail south until the water gets warm
  • Continue sailing with no destination or schedule until it stops being fun.

Obviously with a plan this grand in scale, there has been constant hustle on both of our parts, sorting out the remaining ties to the land, legal considerations, health and dental priorities, and of course continuing to repair and upgrade the s/v TIE Fighter to a point where she’ll be stable and strong on a long offshore voyage. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the boat will never be “finished”, but we’re almost to the point of “good enough”.

There have been many jobs on my list for the past few months, and slowly but surely they’re being finished. All of the major jobs fall under one or more of three major categories, which are, in order of priority:

  1. Ensure the boat is safe,
  2. Ensure the boat is sustainable, and
  3. Ensure the boat is comfortable.
electrical system ongoing
electrical system, now with solar

One job which I have nearly completed is the addition of two massive solar panels to the roof of the aft cabin – well, I have nearly completed it, anyhow.  The wiring is all in place, the solar charge controller is mounted and configured and the system is tested and active… but the panels aren’t yet mounted on the boat itself. I still have to figure out how to properly attach them, and the hardware available just isn’t up to the kind of abuse the ocean tends to throw at things! Hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to sort that out, and with around 20a of current flowing into the batteries on sunny days we shouldn’t have to run the generator anywhere near as often anymore.  This both removes a point of failure (the generator could die, leaving us without power) and adds to the boat’s sustainability.

Another job which has yet to begin is the installation of a watermaker. While not critical, in the strictest sense, the watermaker will remove our need for constant connections to the shore for fresh water. Here in Canada that just means motoring up to a nearby marina for 300l of fresh water from the city supply, but elsewhere that might mean getting tainted water, or more likely having to purchase water in disposable plastic jugs – either way leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

Miya, apart from all of the stresses of packing up a life on land to pursue a life on the ocean, has been working to make the boat a more beautiful place to live.  She’s converted the spartan master and crew berth situation into what she calls the “master nest” and the “guest nest”, lined with blankets and pillows and hung with silks like some Afghani tent. She’s crafted curtains for the windows and a privacy curtain for the head, and begun sprouting miscellaneous seeds in the kitchen. Together we built a box across the back of the aft cabin, housing eight large plastic bins, in which we will eventually plant a garden full of green leafy vegetables.

a Searunner (not TIE Fighter) close-hauled near Hawaii
a Searunner (not TIE Fighter) close-hauled near Hawaii

There are projects that won’t be finished before we leave; the boat still has bare exposed ceilings, for instance, and rough uncarpeted floors. Some of the paint from last years’ intense labour in the Shelter Island boatyards has chosen not to stick to the primer, and there are ugly scuffs and scrapes and chips around that make us wince to see them.  The anchor line is still tied to a cleat at the bow, retrieved hand-over-hand instead of a proper windlass and bow roller, and the edges of the bow have been worn through the fiberglass down to the bare wood underneath in several large patches.

Still, most of the remaining projects are cosmetic, and the vast majority of the critical tasks are already complete. The resounding chorus of cruising sailors remains “just go“. There are plenty of sailors who spend their lives getting ready for a great adventure only to discover that they’ve waited too long and now they’re made fast to the shore by family or work obligations. There are no projects left on the TIE Fighter than cannot be completed at some marina in Mexico, probably for significantly less than they’d be up here.

Our planned leave date is September 12th, 2011.