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Let there be light

February 14, 2015

Dave flew home today.  Long flight through Houston TX, but completely uneventful.

Meanwhile, Melissa helped Marla put up some new lights.  This one went into the master bedroom to give it a little bling.  We tried to put it up yesterday, alas a really bad design frustrated us.  A tiny hole with two wires needing to feed up through it as the unit was installed on the ceiling - so you couldn't feed the wires along - prevented us from being able to finish the installation.  Overnight it dawned on Melissa that if we taped the wires together they might feed through the hole better.  And voila!

Then we took the old lamp from the bedroom and installed it in the den so that it would have better lighting,  And finally a new lamp in the guest room.  This one had a much better design and was a snap to install.

Then we moved on to repairing a hole in the wall that Marla made with her head when she fell in the bathroom a few months ago.  After two layers of plaster, we textured it today.  Once the texture dries and is painted, the damage should be completely invisible.


Dave Wraps Up Storing Apsaras

February 13, 2015

Dave has been working hard to get Apsaras ready to leave.  Yesterday he and Steve took down the sails, and today Dave put up the newly sewn canvas cover that Melissa made before she left.

He cleaned out the fridge (Saltydog inherited the leftovers), dumped and treated the holding tanks and water tanks, put stabalizer in the gas tanks, put the SSB radio in the oven, drained the generator, and took everything off the decks and put it inside the boat.  Whew!  He is one tired puppy! 

Melissa Visit's Her Dad

February 12, 2015

For the past few days, Melissa has been visiting her Dad.  He hasn't been feeling well lately, so she figured before interviews start in earnest, likely next week, this was a good chance for her to go and hang out with him.  Dad and Marla seem in no hurry for her to depart as she has been cooking up a storm.  Pot roast, lemon chicken, chicken soup, fresh bread, yum!!

Camouflage Gecko Aboard

February 11, 2015

Today Apsaras' new pet gecko decided to come inside.  He is pretty good at camouflage and was lucky that Dave didn't step on him and squish him!  Dave managed to capture him and move him outside despite the gecko's objections.  One of the last tasks Dave will do before leaving the boat is to set off some bug bombs.  So even if the bug bomb wouldn't have killed him, lack of live bugs to eat would have.


The Bottom Line Game

February 10, 2015

So Melissa has been helping a friend with a franchise business develop some training materials for their annual convention.  He wanted to create a fun game that would teach people who run small businesses how to read a Profit & Loss statement.  After a couple of months going back and forth developing the game, today was the big day when all the franchise partners sat down at big round tables at the hotel where the franchise convention was held to play the game.  They look to be pretty intense thinking about their spreadsheets!


Saltydog Gets a New Navigation System

February 9, 2015

This morning Melissa bid good bye to all the monkeys.  Amazingly even the famous Party Monkey has survived this entire adventure - never once needing more air.

Meanwhile, Dave finished phase 1 of the Saltydog navigation system installation.  Step 1 yesterday was to tear out the existing sytem till it was down to bare wires.

Then today Dave had to cut the new NavPod (the white container all the gear will be mounted in) for the pieces of the old equipment that will be kept, plus the new chart plotter GPS system.

Then he installed the new NavPod and wired it up.  

All total this first phase of the project only took about 4.5 hours.  Well, that plus countless hours of Dave just thinking about it.  Planning, the secret is all in the thought process!

If you look carefully in the picture below, you will spot Apsaras' new addition.  We are happy to have him aboard as they eat lots of bugs!

Melissa made it back to Seattle in one piece, albiet not till after midnight.  Luis the taxi driver picked her up at the marina, and after hugs all around, she was off.  Travel is such a pain.  The first annoyance was when American Airlines charged her $160 for her third bag of luggage.  First two were free, but they nail you on the third one on international flights.  She had packed a ton of warm clothes - no longer needed on the boat in Panama but going to be super useful once she reaches Seattle- in a giant box.  So the clothes were worth more than $160, but still... After an uneventful flight to Miami, Melissa passed through immigration with no problems, but got pulled aside for secondary search at customs.  Apparently her anwer to "what's in the big box" of "warm clothes", and then "why warm clothes?", "becuase I don't need warm clothes in Panama." needed a bit more context.  Without knowing we were traveling home from the boat, these answers while truthful were a bit odd.  They put her in the "search everything by hand" line.  Ug.  The line was going nowhere and after 20 minutes of just standing there without the line moving at all, another customs officer comes up and asks Melissa if she is traveling alone and why.  So she explains about the boat and that she is headed home.  And the guy says, "hey - I remember you!  You and your husband came through here a while back, didn't you?" Ok, so what are the odds of that?  Melissa says that yes, she and Dave passed through Miami some months back.  He then pulls her out of the hand search line, and sends her directly to the X-Ray everything and then jet line.  This is a good thing becuase Melissa really didn't want to explain all the perscription medications she bought cheap in Panama.  All quite legal, but she could see herself having to pull out the perscription paperwork and go through everything in agonizing detail in the hand search line.

While waiting for the flight to Seattle, they annouce it is overbooked.  Strange as Melissa booked these tickets on miles only a few days ago.  She remembers thinking that it was weird that the seat selection screen only had two free seats and normally they won't let you book on miles on super full flights.  None the less they are offering $500 in flight vouchers + hotel if you are ok with a flight tomorrow.  Since she's got nowhere to be, and her Mom now lives in Florida... she volunteers to take a bump.  Alas by then they had all the volunteers they needed.  The flight home was a bit strange as there was a guy in the row behind her who had some mental issues.  In a booming loud voice he annouced every 2 minutes that this was his first flight ever, and kept asking everyone around him if he was going to be ok.  All the passengers in the rows around him alternated between shying away from him as he was a giant guy who had a few screws not quite right, and staring at him as he would boom constant running repetative commentary.

Melissa's Last Day

February 8, 2015

As today was to be our last Sunday here in Panama with the gang, it was decided another big brunch was in order.  Wanuskewin brought pancake mix and spam.  Yes, spam.  It had become the topic of some debate the night before.  Wanuskewin swore that it was actually pretty good.  The rest of us were in doubt.  So they cut some up in very thin slices and fried it up.  And, dang.  They were right.  It was as tasty as the bacon.  There were memosas, scrambled eggs and coffee too.  Everyone loved it.

Then it was time for Melissa to start packing and think about all the food we have aboard.  She sorted the canned goods which can stay aboard till we come back from things like potato chips that should either be eaten, or be given away because they won't be any good by the time we return.  Then she started making meals for Dave as he will be here a week longer than Melissa.  She made some mini-meatloafs that he can pop in the oven while he is working on getting the boat ready to be stored.

On a trip down the dock at one point, Joan and Melissa were attacked by a small dog.  It lept off a sailboat and chased us down the dock.  Fortunately, Melissa had a cordless drill in her hand as she was on her way over to Saltydog to install the new fridge gas strut.  So she turned on the drill and pointed it at the dog, who disliked the noise and ran back to its boat.  Melissa chased it back and gave the owner a bit of a chewing out about it not being ok to let their dog attack people on the dock.

Then Dave started working on the new Saltydog navigation system installation.  Well more accurately, he started tearing apart the existing system and cutting wires till the cockpit looked like it had been the victim of bandits who stole everything.  More to come on that...

Then for dinner, Melissa wanted to use up all the food in the fridge, so everyone came for Chili that Melissa taught Joan to make in Joan's shinny new pressure cooker. 

How many people does it take to fix a sewing machine?

February 7, 2015

This morning Holly and Melissa again dragged the sewing machine up to the cruisers lounge to finish the shade cover for Apsaras.  Holly threaded the machine, but alas the machine wouldn't stich a decent stich no matter what we did.  We feared that yesterday's fiasco with the thread getting wound around the motor had somehow broken something in the timing or tensioning system of the machine.  And getting the thing fixed here in Panama is going to mean renting a car and driving into Panama City.  After three hours of trying to diagnose the issue, we grabbed Mike and Dave.  They spend another two hours and had no better luck than we did.  At this point a woman wandered over and asked if we could use some help.  Turned out she was a fashion student who knew all about industrial machines.  Took her less than 5 minutes to find the problem which had to do with how the thread was coming into the unit.  Then it took Melissa and Holly another 20 minute to undo all the tensioning changes we had been experimenting with.  Sigh.  The machine operational again, Melissa and Holly finished up the project in 90 minutes.  But it was already time to head to dinner on Saltydog, so Holly didn't get to do any of her sewing projects done.

Meanwhile, Dave spent the day putting together the project for how to install all the new Saltydog navigation equipment.  He hopes to begin the project tomorrow.  With luck, he will be able to complete most of the work before he heads for Seattle in a week.

Saltydog decided to cook dinner for all of us in honor of Melissa's impending departure on Monday.  Joan had made sea bass lasagna.  None of us had been looking forward to this.  Fish lassagna not sounding at all apealing.  But, what an amazing surprise!  It was amazing!  We had to get the recipe from Joan - which is published below.  Try it - we swear it was yummy.

Saltydog gets a new Amp Hour Meter

February 6, 2015

While Saltydog was sitting in the marina in Quepos Costa Rica over the summer, their Amp Meter died.  The Amp Meter is important becuase it lets you understand the health of your batteries, and how much power you are using.  Which isn't a big deal when you are plugged into shore power, but becomes a bigger deal when you are at anchor and eeking everything you can out of the electrical system and recharging via solar.  Steve had purchased a new meter and attempted to have someone in Quepos install it.  Alas after 4 hours of work, the guy got nowhere on being able to make the new meter work, and hadn't done any of the work to cut the pannel to fit the new unit.  You know where this is going... Took Dave two hours start to cut the new hole, and get the unit installed and functioning.  Here is what the new unit looks like:

This might cost us money though because the new pannel has a ton of features that Apsaras' pannel does not. 

Meanwhile, Melissa started the sewing projects to create a big sun shade for the whole boat.  Wanuskewin let her borrow their industrial sewing machine for the project.  The largest piece is 15 feet by 18 feet.  Made from Sunbrella fabric, the pannel weighs a ton.  A single seam would use up a whole bobin's worth of thread.  Holly came and helped Melissa feed the fabric through the machine because it was so unweildy.  Near the end of the day, the thread got totally twisted around the motor belt of the machine and created a huge snarl.  Holly and Melissa decided that was a sign that it needed to be happy hour time.

One phone interview after another

February 5, 2015

Today Melissa spent the better part of the day doing interviews via phone for one job that could be interesting back in Seattle, and interviewing with recruiters. No details yet, you will just have to wait for information to become public.  Meanwhile, Dave spent his time studying modern techniques for implentation of software defined radios in FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Array). 

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