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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weekend camping trip to RI



My lovely wife and I just got back from a weekend trip to Rhode Island. We got together with family and went to some events.

Rather than rent a hotel room, we decided to stay at a campground. The campground was a lot cheaper than the area hotels. Not only that, had we stayed at a hotel, we'd have eaten most of our meals in restaurants. Instead we cooked in the great outdoors.

This was the first time we camped with our new tent. It's a L. L. Bean Big Pine 6. Normally we'd set up a new tent at home first. That way there's no pressure to get it set up before dark. That's also the time to find out if anything is broken or missing. Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to do that ahead of time.

The Big Pine 6 has set up directions sewn into the tent's carry bag. Those were a big help. I decided to refer to them after making a false start right off the bat with the wrong pole. After putting my ego in check, it set up easily.

My lovely wife and I have been tenting for decades. We've owned many tents. I like this one a lot. It's good sized and has an attached vestibule large enough for a couple chairs and a small table. That's nice when the weather is bad. Everything is well made. The tent can be closed up tight for blustery rain storms or opened up for good ventilation on hot days. This is our first tent that has a full sized back door -a nice feature.

If I've got a complaint it would the tent pegs. It comes with those ubiquitous yellow plastic pegs. The pegs are fine for soft soil or sand. Most campgrounds have fairly hard packed soil and plastic pegs are rarely up to the job. With that in mind, we also brought a bag of metal pegs and they were needed for the compacted gravel of our site.

This is not a paid review as we bought the tent. It was on sale for half price, but was still a hefty $275. Of course, quality only hurts once. After using the tent, I'd have paid full price for it if I had to.

Our first night with the tent was on Friday. Saturday morning I woke up after an excellent night's sleep -better than I'd been sleeping in my own bed at home. In fact, I was happy to wake up in a tent.

We tried another Mountain House freeze dried meal. I picked up a half dozen breakfast packages. The label said it was hash browns, eggs, sausage, green peppers and onions. Yep, all that stuff was in there, but it was like a good breakfast was all thrown into a blender. It suffers from the transformation. The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't excellent either. Had I hiked twenty miles the day before and been on a mountain somewhere, it would have been great. However, for car camping I should have just picked up some real eggs.

All in all, it was a good trip and the camping part went well.

-Sixbears

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Bug Out Locations



It seems everyone wants to be told where the perfect bug out location is. Short answer: there isn't one.

A friend of mine was thinking that maybe remote parts of Alaska would be a good place to be. I'm thinking, maybe not. Few people in Alaska really live self-reliant lives out there. Yes, there are exceptions, but the majority of people don't live out in the bush. Even those that do rely on getting periodic supplies. Even the natives can't live like they used to anymore. Too much has changed. Personally, I'd be pretty bummed by the months of darkness.

Areas of the US Northwest attract a fair number of survivalist types. That's all well and good, until Yellowstone erupts. To be fair, most of the world would feel the effects if Yellowstone blew.

Remote islands? How about hurricanes? Not only that, most islanders today get steady supplies from the outside. They don't live on just fish and coconuts. Many islands have populations too large to be supported by local food supplies.

The point is that every location has its downsides. One has to choose which risks they are willing to live with.

Most of the world is tied together. Some people dream of living on an independent homestead. You can't be totally self-contained without living like a stone age barbarian. Even if you could supply all your needs at your homestead, outside income would still be needed. The government expects people to pay their taxes.

For many people the best location is in a smaller safe city with a good hospital. They are much more likely to need services from a hospital, police or fire department, than a hiding place from zombies.

As for myself, I live in a low population rural area. My house has off-grid solar, my own well and septic. There are cultivated and wild foods all around me. However, there's a pretty decent hospital 20 minutes away. My set up is much is pretty good for short and even medium term emergencies. In a long term crisis, we'd all be scrambling to survive.

While I don't think there are any perfect bug out locations, there certainly some places you don't want to live. Large cities with high crime rates and crumbling infrastructure come to mind. They aren't fit to live in now, so now is the time to find someplace better.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Gear Test and Future Plans?



My lovely wife and I will be going camping for a couple of nights soon. We will be going to events in another state. It's a good chance to check out the new tent. The “cheaper” hotels in the area are $140/night. The $25/night campground fees are easier to take. We'll also save a few bucks by cooking some meals at the campground rather than eating out.

In the next few weeks I plan on doing some house reorganization. The camping gear is going to be kept in a special place near the front door. Now it's up on the third floor. It will be easier to hit the road in a hurry when everything is more organized and doesn't have to hauled downstairs.

There's the possibility of come camping down south this winter. Outside of that our plans are fairly open. We are kicking around some different options for other adventures. Money and responsibilities will have some bearing on those plans.

I'm kicking around some other trip ideas for the future. Motorcycle adventures could be fun, but are tedious if the weather is bad. I even looked into doing a trip all on back roads with a scooter instead of a full sized motorcycle. It would be a slower trip, but cheaper and more laid back.

Every now and then I'm tempted to go on an extended canoe trip. The beauty of a canoe is that, unlike most forms of transportation, there's very little to go wrong. There's something to be said for a vehicle with no moving parts. That would be more of a summer trip for me. There's access to a 700 mile canoe trail two tenths of a mile from my house. While I've canoed in southern waters, camping in those wetlands doesn't excite me. Too many bitey critters.

Until I sell my van, I'm not really in the market for its replacement. One simple problem is that there would be no place to park it. Repairs, fuel, registration, and insurance are all expenses that have to be factored in. Taking care of just one vehicle for a while frees up some funds for fun.

Of course, we are always looking a various sailboat options. The more I look at the shape of this country, the more I'm tempted to get a sailboat capable of crossing oceans.

-Sixbears


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Digging It



I finally got started on digging up my broken water line. It's been easy to put the job off. There have been plenty of other project to focus my attention on. The temporary line has been working well. I guess one of things I was avoiding was how badly I'm out of shape for this kind of work. Oh well. The best way to get into shape for doing something is to do that thing.

Progress was made. There was a lot of brush and a large fallen birch that needed to be moved. Digging down I found the buried power supply cable. That was laid in the same trench as the water pipe, but a few feet about it. That let me know I was digging in the right place. The job came to a halt when a large rock appeared in the trench. The pry bar needed to move it had been left back at the house. That was enough reason for me to call it a day. I'd made a good start, but was pretty tuckered out.

Between digging up the water line and splitting firewood, I'm getting plenty of much needed exercise. I was looking forward to getting exercise on my boat trip. Sailing my boat, paddling the kayak into shore, and walking around for supplies gets me in condition. Digging ditches, while good exercise, isn't as fun. The views aren't as stunning either.

Oh well. At least I'm getting back into condition, even if it's a lot less fun.

-Sixbears

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Wood Pile



One thing about canceling my trip for next month. It gives me a little more time to do house projects.

I was going to borrow a woodsplitter to make sure firewood would be ready for my lovely wife. Most of it was sawn some time ago, is dry, but hasn't been split. Now that I'm going to be here for the fall I've decided to split the wood by hand.

Sure, using a woodsplitter would have knocked off the job in a day. However, it's noisy, burns gas, and I've problems with the fumes. The ax is a lot slower, but now I've got time. I'm not trying to split it all in a day. Splitting a few pieces at a time works fine.

There's a certain pleasure in splitting wood by hand -as long as you aren't in a hurry. Over the years one learns how to size up a log. With experience a person learns the best way to split a piece of wood. It might take just one good blow down the middle with an ax. A twisted knotty piece of wood might require wedges, finesse, and brute force. Each log is a small puzzle to solve.

The exercise is doing me some good. The first few times, muscles I'd forgotten about had a few complaints. Good thing I wasn't trying to split wood all day. Sometimes it's a matter of building up to it.

The days have still been nice, but there are frost warnings at night. It's good to have the woodstove going again.

-Sixbears

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Adventure Travel



People with a touch of the nomad in their hearts often decided to take some sort of live aboard vehicle and travel. It could be anything from something as small as a car to as large as a huge RV with all the slide outs.

When they get sick of that, a number of RV people have switched to boats. Their choices range from trawlers to catamarans with all the toys. Now I'm seeing people who've started out on boats that have decided to go the other way. It makes sense for people who want to experience different things. You can't take an RV to the Bahamas, nor can you sail to the Grand Canyon.

My lovely wife and I have lived on boats and vehicles. We've also done it on a limited budget. Our plans for the coming winter were going to involve a mixture of both. Once I had sailed our little boat to Florida, we would have spent the winter sailing and camping. With the cancellation of my fall sailing trip that plan is shot. With the loss of our tow vehicle, the logistics get more complicated.

In a pinch, we could load up the car and go tent camping for months with just a couple hours preparation. We've actually left for camping in 20 minutes once, so allowing a couple hours is generous. All that bug out prep pays off.

On the other hand, we could keep an eye out for a cheap boat down south and go sailing. The problem with that is cheap boats need work. You don't want to drown, after all. I'd rather have my little boat that's in good condition than take chances with unknown problems. We have a limited budget and a fixed income. That's always a factor. We've also been in the process of reducing debt, so that leaves even less money for travel. For now, we are keeping the car tenting option ready.

I'm always on the lookout for other traveling options, especially ones that don't take a lot of money. Some don't interest as much as they once did. Hiking the Appalachian Trail would have made more sense when I was fit and 20. As a fat 60 year old, it's not such a fine idea. Also, my lovely wife is even less likely to do it.

I don't have the money to fly around the world on a private plane. Those who do have the money tend to be more interested in making more money rather than going on extended adventures. Traveling by motorcycle could be an option, but the comfort level can be pretty low. I followed one couple who decided to tour Europe with a Ural motorcycle with a sidecar. They ended up cutting their trip short and then working as crew on a sailboat to get back to the US.

At any rate, I'm kicking ideas around. Who knows what I'll come up with? Suggestions?

-Sixbears

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Prepper Solar



Solar electric is doing very well in northern New Hampshire. While we aren't the sunniest place, there are factors that are good for solar. It's pretty easy to tie solar into the New Hampshire grid. The political and economic conditions more than make up for the less than ideal sun exposure. Imagine what places like Florida could do if the powers that be were not actively working against it.

I've been talking to a lot of people who have put in significant solar arrays. They are doing so well that they are changing over all their appliances over to electric. One guy even got rid of his woodstove and put in an electric heat pump. They are saving a lot of money.

They have also put all their eggs in one basket. None of these people have battery backup. In fact, due their increased electrical usage, it would be cost prohibitive to buy enough batteries to run their houses. In a grid down situation their solar electric system is useless. The solar panels are automatically disconnected so as not to backfeed the grid. That's to protect line workers.

My solar electric system was put in when solar was expensive. With that in mind, I concentrated on energy efficency. The cheapest watt is the one you don't have to generate. Another thing I did was to have things like a woodstove that did not use electricity at all. Back then, it was expensive to tie into the grid. Not only that, they paid a much lower rate than retail prices. It made sense to have just enough solar for my minimal needs and to store it in batteries.

Of course, one of the main reasons I put in solar electricity was to make sure I had power when the grid went down. My power system might be of modest size, but it keep chugging along when everything else has failed.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trip Canceled



After investing a lot of time, money and effort on my sailing trip, I've decided I have to cancel it. The straw that broke the camel's back is the storm damage in the Carolinas.

Reports coming in from the Atlantic Intra Coastal Waterway are mixed. Some marinas were destroyed. Others survived the storm surge in good shape. I'm told the waterway is passable. Even so, many larger boats plan to sail outside in the open Atlantic to avoid problems.

While I could probably get my boat through the waterway, it would not be the trip I planned. A lot of the attraction of doing such a trip would have been all the interesting stops along the way. I have doubts about many of the places being ready for tourists. My experience in the Keys last winter revealed that a lot of businesses were out of order. In fact, there are places that still have not recovered.

When I let slip that I might be sticking around there was a lot of encouragement to do so. People have been good about supporting me, but really like the idea of my being around this fall. Since my travels are all self funded, it's totally my own decision. There will be other adventures. I'm thinking of maybe doing the same trip in the spring, but reversed, from the south to the north.

One final consideration: the hurricane season is far from over.

-Sixbears

Monday, September 17, 2018

Propane Service



When I first went to a solar electric system I also went pretty heavily into propane. I had a propane refrigerator, tankless water heater, stove and clothes dryer. The idea was to be able to run off grid for months if necessary. Solar was expensive back then so it made sense to run as much stuff on something else as possible.

That was over 20 years ago. My lovely wife and I had three young children in the house. We wanted to be able to take care of them in grid down situations.

Life moves on. The children grew up and moved out on their own. One by one the propane appliances failed. The budget, as is often the case, was pretty tight. Propane appliances are usually more expensive than their electric counterparts. The tankless water heater was replaced by a grid tied electric tank for about a third the price. However, it was also adapted to get a boost from a hot water coil connected to the woodstove.

The propane refrigerator was also replaced with a much cheaper electric fridge. I experimented on it and added a huge copper water pipe coil. Every drop of water used in my house first goes through that copper coil. My well water is ice cold all year long. In fact, I shut the electricity off to the fridge and was able to keep food cold for a month without any problems. Of course, the freezer didn't work, so I eventually plugged it back in. However, the cold water coil reduces the power usage quite a bit.

My propane stove was replaced with a woodstove. In the summer that's supplemented with grills and a two burner electric hot plate. I also have a large toaster oven that I do some baking in. During cooler months though, the woodstove is great.

The propane dryer is still in operation. Sure, I've got both inside and outside clotheslines, but sometimes it's nice to use the dryer. It made no sense to maintain a 500 pound propane tank and a contract with a delivery company. Now I use 20 pound tanks like you've use on a grill. I can get them filled at the country store two miles away.

My systems evolved over time. Often I've had to use creativity because of a limited budget. That's not a bad thing. It made for a more interesting journey.

-Sixbears

Friday, September 14, 2018

Leaving it all behind



There's an old Chinese proverb that goes something like this: in a long life a man should be prepared to leave all their possessions behind and flee at least twice. It was written during a turbulent time in Chinese history. War lords fought for territory and often the only wise thing to do was to flee.

Of course, that comes to mind due to the evacuations caused by hurricane Florence. At least people had time to plan their escape. Yesterday in Massachusetts problems with natural gas lines caused multiple explosions and fires. People had to evacuate immediately.

You don't need a major disaster to lose all your property. Something as simple as unemployment or divorce can cause a person to lose all their stuff.

The thing to keep in mind is that it's just stuff. Yes, it's painful to lose everything you've worked hard for. It hurts to lose personal items and mementos. Still, better to lose stuff than your life. Too often people have refused to evacuate or even gone back into burning buildings for material things. When I was a firefighter I once had to have police haul someone away to keep them out of their burning house.

When you have to abandon everything, it's good to have solid relationships: friends and family you can count on. It's also good to have skills. The knowledge in your head is extremely portable. When pursuing material things, never neglect relationships and skills.

-Sixbears

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Trip in Jeopardy


Hurricane Florence has put my fall sailing trip at risk. Right now I'm thinking it's a 90% chance it won't happen. Much depends on exactly where and how the hurricane hits.

I'm not going on a sailing vacation in disaster areas. If the towns along the ICW are still struggling with repairs and supplies, they won't need me there adding to the burden. If the waterways are choked with debris, marinas closed, and lift bridges out of order, I'm staying home.

However, if the damage is limited, I could manage. Even the occasional out of order bridge is not a deal breaker. In a pinch I could drop my mast and motor through them. It's possible that the worse part of the storm could be over sparsely inhabited marshlands. There's not much there to damage. I could easily poke my way through a 50 mile stretch of sketchy conditions. What I don't want to do is struggle with hundreds of miles of devastation.

Larger boats with crew have the option of heading out to sea and skipping sections of the ICW. On sailing forums the common recommendation is to sit out the storm up north. Once the storm danger is past the advice is to sail in the open ocean outside of the waterway. That's not a good option for a single handed 19 foot boat.

As I write this the storm path is still not nailed down. The reality of the situation is that I'll probably not know for sure what's what until sometime next week.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Summer of our Discount Tent



My lovely wife and I just bought a new tent for half price at an L. L. Bean outlet. It still cost $275. Lesson one: don't skimp on your tent. It's your home away from home. Big box stores sell tents that leak. That's no bargain. Better materials, good design, no-see-um screens, and heavier construction are worth it.

It's a pretty good sized tent. The floor size is about 9.5 X 9.5 feet. The roof height is tall enough that I can stand up. That's important when trying to get dressed. When figuring out how big a tent your need, take the recommended occupancy and cut it in half. For example, a two person tent only really fits one person. Our six person tent is large enough for us, the dog, and some luggage.

Another thing we like in a tent is an attached screened in area. It's really nice to have a place to set up a couple of chairs on a dreary day. That really helps with the cabin fever if it rains for days on end.

Quite a few people can't get over the fact that my lovely wife enjoys tenting. Part of that is the fact that I've never made her sleep in crappy tents. A good tent is an important element of a good camping trip. If you wake up warm, dry and rested, camping looks pretty good.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sad Anniversary


On this day I mourn the loss of my brother firefighters in the September 11 attacks. As a former firefighter, it hit me really hard when the towers came down. I know what it's like to go into a building that everyone else is trying to get out of.

I mourn all the others who lost their lives in the attack.

Finally, I mourn for the United States of America. We are not the same country we were before the attacks. We lost our innocence and much of our freedoms in the name of security.

Rest in peace.

-Sixbears

Monday, September 10, 2018

Strange and Sad Coincidence



The dog woke me up at an uncivilized hour so she could go inspect the property lines in the dark. Once up, I could not get back to sleep. To pass the time I finished reading Lee Hughes' "The Biggest Boat I could Afford."

I got to the section where he was sailing into Titusville Florida with the hope of seeing a returning space shuttle. Unfortunately, that was the Columbia that broke up upon reentry, causing the loss of life of all on board. Titusville is on Florida's Space Coast and is definitely a space town. While the loss of the space shuttle was a national disaster, on the Space Coast it was a local disaster too. Most of the residents have some connection to the space industry.

As luck would have it, at the same time Lee Huges was sailing into Titusville, I was driving into town. My lovely wife and I happened to be traveling the country in an old Mercedes diesel sedan converted to run on waste vegetable oil. On the fateful day, Mr. Huges and I were probably no more than a mile apart.

The book brought back memories of that sad day. It was a strange coincidence that we were both there at the same time.

-Sixbears

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Stormwatch 2018



Well, so much for long range forecasts. Some of the long range weather forecasts looked pretty promising for a mild hurricane season. Wind shear and dry air over the Atlantic indicated it would put a damper on storms. There are a bunch of storms churning around in the Atlantic right now that say those factors aren't enough.

Why should I care, living in the mountains of New Hampshire? How about Brotherhood of Man and all that? Besides my general empathy, hurricanes could definitely affect my travel plans. Last year Irene messed up my sailing grounds enough that I left the boat home. If the US Atlantic coasts gets a pounding this year, it will make me reconsider my sailboat trip down the coast. It's no fun to sail in debris filled waters with coastal services like marinas all shut down. It might have been interesting back when I was 19 and immortal. At 60, I'd rather not.

Hurricane Florence is sending boaters scrambling from New England to Florida. Many up north are delaying their trip south. There are others further down the coast scrambling for hurricane holes. Current wisdom indicates that Savanna Georgia might be a good place to sit this one out -if you can find room in a marina.

There are pretty good odds that this storm will stay off-shore, but right now it's too early to tell for sure. Even off-shore storms create conditions bad enough to cause serious problems. Behind Florence are a number of storms waiting their turn.

My departure date puts me on the water around the 19th or 20th of October. While that's not the height of the hurricane season, it's still a moderately risky time. So I'm going to pay attention for the next month or so and take my best guess on what to do. I don't need a zero risk situation. If you tried to eliminate all risk, you'd never do anything.

-Sixbears

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Water Time



Friday started out cool but warmed up nicely by the afternoon. My lovely wife and I went down to the lake to work on the boat. I did a few little projects, put another cleat on and mounted a depth gauge transducer. Mostly though, we took advantage of the nice day and did some sailing.

My lovely wife spent more time on the tiller than I did. If you want your spouse to enjoy boating, let them do the driving. Then it's not your hobby alone, but something you both enjoy. Not only that, if I fall overboard, she knows how to turn the boat around and come get me.

It was a beautiful afternoon. Most of the time it was just us and four loons on the lake. Those birds are pretty comfortable around the sailboat and come right up to it. Later in the afternoon a pontoon boat came out for a bit and then a kayaker joined us. It's pretty quiet with the kids back in school.

FedEx delivered a 50 watt flexible solar panel. It's more efficient and smaller than my older 50 watt panel. I think I can find a good place for it on the cabin roof. I'll have 130 watts of solar when I'm done with the upgrades. It doesn't sound like a lot, but my needs are few.

I'm still trying to sell the van. There's been some interest, but no one has shown up with cash in hand yet. It would be nice to sell it before I head south. That would help the travel kitty.

There are a lot of people with YouTube and Patreon accounts funding their travels. I'm not going to do that. I don't mind that they do, but it's not for me. If I can't figure out a way to pay for my fun trips, I don't deserve to go. Of course, I'm also willing to go on a tiny boat with minimal comforts. That's part of the fun of it.

-Sixbears

Friday, September 7, 2018

Blip in the Grid



There was a blip in the grid Wednesday night. It went down for about 5 minutes or so. That doesn't sound too bad. However, it caused the Berlin NH biomass plant to shut down. Locals tell me that all they could hear in town was the boilers blowing off steam. Last I heard they were still trying to get the plant back up and on-line.

Most of my house was running on my solar electric system at the time. We only noticed there was something wrong when the Internet went down. So for me there are two messages. The grid is pretty fragile when even a short outage can cause big problems. The second thing is that it's good to have my own power system up and running again.

One of my blog readers, M. Silvius, recommended Lee Hughes' "The Biggest Boat I could Afford." I was able to find a good used copy of the book. It just came in the mail today. It's the story of his sailing journey up the U. S. coast in a 16 foot sailing dinghy. Can't wait to read it.

I ordered some sailboat stuff and it's starting to arrive. Today it was 150 feet of nylon anchor rode with a length of stainless steel anchor chain. I attached it to a good sized Danforth anchor in nearly new condition. That should make a good backup anchor.

I started to fill out paperwork to put insurance on my sailboat. There was little need for insurance when it was just on my little lake. However, I want insurance for my trip. I need to go down to the boat and get the hull number. That's the last bit of information needed for the insurance company. Most marinas say you need insurance if you want to stay. No one has ever asked to see my insurance papers, but why take the chance? Insurance is cheap enough. It saved me a $9400 salvage fee when my other boat was sunk.

So, things are moving along. Checking items off the list.

-Sixbears

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Solutions and Problems



My furnace guy checked out my hot air furnace. I was concerned that it might have been due for replacement. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. All it needed was a cleaning and tune up. That was cheap enough. Now all I have to do is to get the tank filled. I'd let is run down low in case the furnace was beyond repair.

Most of the time I heat the house with wood. It is good to have oil backup. If I get sick or injured the last thing I want to do is haul wood in to feed the stove. It's also handy having an automatic heat source in case we want to leave the house for a few days.

My lovely wife and I had a discussion about my fall sailing trip. There is a depressingly long list of things that could derail my plans. I'm working my way though those things that I have some control over. Getting the furnace fixed was one of those. Some things, like hurricanes, are out of my hands. There may be other things that require my attention at home. I'm not going to skip out on my duties. That may cause me to miss my time window.

I'm going to be scrambling for the next five weeks or so. Part of my time will be spent getting things sorted out with the household. The boat also needs some things done before a long trip. The pressure is on.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

More Trip Prep



The dental hygienist wasn't too happy with me. She asked how long it had been since my last checkup. I thought it was two or three years. The records said I hadn't been there since 2008. Opps. Then I refused to get X-rays. She didn't like that either. I'm paying 100% out of pocket and I didn't want to pay for something I didn't think I needed. Near the end of the cleaning the dentist checked out my teeth. He didn't find anything wrong and thought they looked good. I must be doing something right. Hopefully, I won't have dental problems during my sailing trip.

My furnace guy is coming over to service and check out the heater. Normally I wouldn't worry too much about it. However, since I won't be around, I want it in good shape in case my lovely wife needs it. I want her to have the option of not loading wood into the wood stove.

I've ordered another solar electric panel and charge controller for the boat. My little boat will end up with three completely independent solar electric systems. The final decision was to go with three small systems rather than one big one. The boat already has a small solar power system. In a pinch, any one of the systems should be able to handle essential electrical needs.

The boat has a really good anchor set up, but I wanted to upgrade my backup. The rode (rope) and chain looked a bit worn. Since I'm counting on my anchor to keep everything safe, it's something not to skimp on. Always get a bigger anchoring system than recommended for your boat length. When unexpected gale force winds appear in the night, you'll feel better knowing your ground tackle did not come from the discount bin.

Things are coming together. The current plan is to leave New Hampshire on October 17th. My daughter is towing my boat down to Virginia with her truck. The plan is coming together.

-Sixbears


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Moving Forward



I'm still not fully recovered from whatever plague I caught. Still feeling pretty weak and the cough isn't completely gone.

On the bright side, I actually felt good enough to attempt a few projects. Recently I bought a new angle grinder. It's just the tool I needed to remove the old safety chains from my boat trailer. The new chain is about three times as heavy. It's also long enough to connect to my daughter's truck. The old ones were too short.

After that I hauled tools and materials down to the lake to work on the boat. One thing that bothered me for years was the small number of cleats. It only came with four, two on the bow and two on the stern. I bought four more. The plan was to put two more aft on the port and starboard sides, plus two more amidships. That should give me plenty of places for dock lines, anchor rode, bumpers, and anything else in need of attachment. Unfortunately, after installing only one of them, storm clouds rolled in. My lovely wife and I just made it inside just steps ahead of the thunder and lightning.

I won't be able to get back to it until Wednesday at the earliest. I've a dentist appointment. The plan is to get my teeth checked out before my trip in the fall. There's nothing like a toothache to ruin an adventure.

It's encouraging to be getting some things done, even if I'm still not up to full speed. Forward motion is forward motion.

-Sixbears

Monday, September 3, 2018

Make Sure You go to Bars



My lovely wife is one of a kind. She has some advice for my solo sailing trip this fall. She wants me to make sure I go bars. Not just any bars, of course, but bars along the waterfront. Now most wives would not encourage their husbands to do that. My lovely wife is not like most women.

Her thinking is that sailors like to have a few drinks, especially after a long day on the water. By going to bars I'll have a chance to talk to others who spend time out on the water. They will have a pretty good idea on what the current conditions are like. If there are uncharted hazards in the waterway, they are going to know about them. Maybe they learned the hard way, but running aground on an unmarked shoal. After a few drinks they will want to talk about it. Bars can be a good source of that valuable commodity, local knowledge.

In my day to day life, I rarely go to bars. Maybe my lovely wife and I will occasionally meet up with friends in a bar. Rarely will I ever go to one alone. If by myself I'm more likely to go to a coffee shop. However, that's probably not where most boaters are going to be. Besides, most coffe shop people tend to stick to themselves. In bars, people have a few drinks and loosen up.

So I guess I'm going to have to budget more for beer. Hey, anything to make my lovely wife more comfortable about my trip.

-Sixbears

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Cheap Generators



There are some pretty inexpensive generators out there. Sometimes they can be purchased for under $200. You get what you pay for. Lower priced generators are disposable products. Often they are thrown together using whatever cheap parts can be found in China. Forget about servicing them. Parts are not available.

There are good small generators. For example, Honda makes pretty reliable units. They aren't cheap, but they will last longer and can be repaired.

If you have to use a lot of power, say 4000 watts and up, prices for reliable units are a major investment. You should look for those that run at lower rpm. Diesel or propane engines are more reliable than gasoline. It's not uncommon for good diesel generators for large RV or boat use to cost in the $8,000 to $16,000 range. Quality costs.

A $500 gas 4000 watt generator from China might do the same job -for tiny fraction of time.

Are the cheap generators ever worth it? That depends on what you want to do with them. I know contractors who buy cheap generators to do jobs in remote locations. They use them up and throw them away. The customer ends up paying for them. If you look at a cheap generator as a short term use item for a specific temporary need, it makes sense. Long term use? Not so much.

Generators are the reason why I like solar. Solar is more reliable, quiet and doesn't need fuel. However, even off-grid solar people will sometimes use generators. Solar might handle 99% of their needs, but they occasionally have to run equipment with high power needs, or have a long period without sun. A cheap generator might make sense for occasional use.

-Sixbears