Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Couldn't quite make it three! (B.O.A.T.)

BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand!

Okay, The Great Reef Aquarium Project has been temporarily suspended. Well, actually, I'm still waiting for additional stuff to arrive before I attempt to set it up - so it's just as well...

DH's company, like many, is on shut-down this week. This makes things a bit "challenging" for me - since I work from home most of the time. But thankfully many of my clients are also on shut-down, so things have been mercifully quiet (and I took the opportunity to burn a vacation day).

Anyhooo... Since Rog has all this Free Time, we decided this was a good opportunity to call the boatyard and see about arranging our off-season maintenance. G&J, the former owners, took fastidious care of the boat - but it had been at least 2-3 years since it's last bottom job. And, based on how quickly she'd grow a beard, we figured she's about due again.

No more DIY Bottom-Jobs for me, though (although it would be "relatively easy" to slap a coat of paint on her, while she's on the trailer). We decided it'd be best to just take her to a yard and get "everything" done in one fell swoop.

"How much do ya think this is gonna cost?" asks DH.

"Well, the last time I hauled (about 10 yrs ago), it was about $1,000 for haul, power-wash and bottom paint for a 32-footer. So I'm gonna guess it'll be right around $1,000."

"But our boat's only 26-feet."

(Answer: It's $1,100! That's *just* haul/power-wash/paint)

We're also getting some other work done. Boat has a couple of topside leaks around the chainplates - I think (hope!) they just need to be re-bedded. Outboard needs a basic service. And there are a couple of fiberglass/gelcoat repairs needed. One down near the waterline could prove to be problematic if water gets in it (Delamination??? Nooooo!!!). And the other is a scar she got when Rog ran aground and ended up colliding with another boat's anchor - the day we moved into our slip for the first time! ("Hi! I'm Nancy and this is Roger. We're your new neighbors!!")

So Rog got on the horn with San Francisco Boat Works yesterday. Seems they're running all kinds of Specials right now - which is a very good thing. It's definitely the off-season and they are particularly dead this week. So they were most happy to have us come up and drop her off today.

Well, as soon as Rog did the over-the-phone "handshake," he immediately went into Panic Mode. Ohmygawd-we've-got-to-prepare-the-boat-and-drop-the-mast-and-check-the-trailer-and-what-are-we-gonna-do-about-the-roller-furler-and-what-if-it's-this-or-what-if-it's-that-and-this-is-gonna-take-a-LOT-of-time-and-maybe-I'd-better-just-call-them-and-postpone-it-and-yayayayayaya............"

We went up to the storage-yard yesterday afternoon and started breaking stuff down (in cold, dismal, dreary rain!).

I have something of a fear of heights, so I stayed stuck to the ground. But Rog handed stuff down to me and I did what I could from below. He removed the boom and handed down the sail (I flaked it myself thankyouverymuch!); Stowed all the loose crap inside the boat securely; We dropped and secured the mast ("Whoa-Whoa-Whoa-Whoa-WAIT!!! You're gonna hit that other boat!! We need to pull the trailer forward!!!") (See, it helps to have someone on the ground!!!). Zip-tied all the standing rigging so it wouldn't rub the gelcoat; Bungeed everything else; And generally buttoned-her-down as best we could.

The roller-furler was a challenge though. See, we had to undo the forestay at the bow in order to drop the mast. We didn't want to remove the forestay from the top of the mast and we had to be careful not to bend the foil. Annnnd, with the forestay still attached to the mast, the roller furler extended beyond the base of the mast (and would have been flopping about madly and damaging the foil as we were hurtling down the highway). I suggested securing it as best we could (bungee-mania!)- until we could come home and Google it...

Found an Egg-zellent suggestion online (Gotta love the intertubes!). You take a boat hook, extend it fully and bungee it securely to the base of the mast - so that it becomes an "extension." You then bungee the bottom of the forestay and roller-furler to the boat-hook extension. Worked like a charm! No flopping around. No bent foil. Yay!

Not the greatest shot, but you can almost see the boat hook lashed near the bottom. R/F is inside the bag.

So as Rog was puttering around on and in the boat, I wanted to check-out how "secure" the boat was - on the trailer. Well, as Rog trundled about, the bow of the boat kept bouncing up and down and I discovered I could actually stick my fingers under the fwd (bow) support on the trailer. Not Good! The center of gravity was waaaaay too far back and yes, we now have a Super-Beefy-Manly Winch on the trailer, but I still didn't feel too warm-n-fuzzy about the 30 mile freeway trip. I decided to keep my mouth shut about it yesterday (Rog was still pretty wound-up about what-all needed to be done)...

See, the last time we pulled her out onto the trailer, her ballast tank was full. We'd cinched her up and pulled her out, but the weight of the ballast pulled her back about half-a-foot. We didn't bother fixing it since we were just moving her across the street to the dry-storage yard.

This morning, we went up (In the sunshine! But it was still cold) to secure the roller-furler and get ready to take off. Once we were hitched up, I pointed out the whole "center of gravity" issue and suggested that we plunk her in at the launch ramp, and cinch her up tighter to the trailer. So we did - and all was MUCH better.

All secure now!

Then we drove up to The City. The drive up was rather uneventful (Yay!). Even exiting the freeway and heading to the yard wasn't *too* terribly awful (in spite of all the construction on Mariposa St). I'd called ahead to the yard to inquire about the best way "in" to the yard. See, most boats come by water and get scooped out by a Travelift. We were trailering in and I didn't recall an open gate on the street. I did remember an open gate over by The Ramp, an adjoining (WAY COOL) restaurant. The office gal suggested that the "come in thru The Ramp's parking lot" way would be the preferred entry.

So in we went!

Well, into the parking lot anyway.

Once we pulled all the way into the lot, it became painfully clear that there was NO WAY we could make the (sharp, narrow) turn into the boatyard (Ooooops!) And once we were in the parking lot, there was NO WAY to turn around (Double Oooooops!). Begin Panic-Mode: "Oh sh*t, NOW what are we gonna do?!!"

I know Rog is damn good with maneuvering the boat and trailer. We had *quite* the dramatic Fun-Time the day we drove her up from SoCal (an all-day drive) and arrived at a dry-storage facility that had NO (and I do mean ZERO) turning room. We got good-and-stuck that day, but managed to get out of it (by unhitching the boat and backing the truck - from a completely different angle, then re-hitching it to get out of a seemingly impossible situation).

But I digress (Surprise!!!). Anyway, I was all prepared to have Rog back-out onto the street - with me blocking traffic. Luckily, a boatyard worker appeared and offered his assistance. He started by moving a dumpster and attempting to open the gate further, but then a second worker appeared who said he could bring her in using his forklift. No, he didn't hoist her up! He had a ball on one of the forklift fork thingies and he did a stupendous job of maneuvering her in.

Forklift got her in!

We got all checked in, and left our Laundry List of things to do. We then had free lunch at The Ramp (did I mention that it's an awesome joint?!). While we were eating, they put her up on the Travelift and I got a few good shots. Then we met with the yard manager to discuss what-all we want done. We still don't have the "full" estimate, but I'm guessing (hoping) it won't go much past $2,000.

The Ramp

She'll be in the yard for about a week............

Sunday, December 27, 2009

That's two in a row!

Gonna try to make this "An Update a Day" kinda thing... Although there really isn't much to report today!

Spent the better part of the afternoon "partying" at the Skilled Nursing Facility with mom, family and friends (woohoo!).

And we stopped by to check on the boat (currently in dry-storage for the winter). We do have some leakage at the chain-plates (minor, but troubling nonetheless). We're going to be driving her to a boatyard in San Francisco in the coming weeks - since she's due for a bottom job and, while she's there, we'll have them re-bed the chainplates and touch-up some gelgoat blemishes

We'll shell out the $$ and have all the work done professionally (my days of DIY Bottom Jobs are over - thankyouverymuch!).

B.O.A.T. = Break Out Another Thousand!

Nothing new to report on the Great Reef Aquarium Project (yet), other than bombarding my buddy with emails; reading Reef-Tank message boards (and getting Information Overload!); looking for local reef-clubs; and going online to order gee-gaws for the tank set-up. I've ordered a bunch of stuff, so far. Just waiting for it to arrive. Once it does, I'll post a list of what-all I bought and how I intend to set it up.

So if you look at yesterday's picture - well, that's exactly what it looks like today! (The stand is even still covered with dust!).

Boooooooring, I know! I'll try to do better!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Santa was good to me! (OMG - She's Alive!!!)

Sometimes... Life just gets in the way!

Been extremely absent, I know. Ahhh, the Joys of Middle Age! One of those chapters they conveniently left out of The Handbook was the one about how your parents, at some point, turn into children that must be cared for.

My mom's been in and out of the hospital three times in as many months, and that has taken a LOT of time (and created a LOT of stress). And since I really don't want this blog to be a place for whiney-stuff, I've pretty much set it (the blog) aside.

Good News Is: Mom is on the mend now. But, having had the stuffing knocked out of her, she's got a LONG way to go to fully recover (and it's debatable whether she ever will recover fully, unfortunately). But she's getting ready to come home and we're all hoping things will continue to improve...

Too much "stuff" has transpired in the past several months to even begin to bring things up-to-date, so I'll just Fast-Forward to now :-)

I am embarking on a New Project. And we know how I loves me a Good Project! And it gives me a good, solid excuse to blog. So that's a good thing (I think)!

Okay, maybe a *little* background/digression is in order here:
Part of all the Goings-On while mom was sick, was me trying to find *some* way to relieve my stress. And while I was at the local pet store, picking up a bag o' dog kibble, I wandered into the aquarium section and hit on the "Brilliant" idea of buying myself a fish tank because staring at fishies is kinda relaxing, right?

Now I used to keep freshwater tanks when I was a kid, and I didn't recall that it was all that difficult. And the Pet Store had a 2.5 gallon aquarium "kit" for cheap. And a MONDO-COOL Tacky Tiki Sculpture! So, after confirming that the Tiki would fit in the 2.5 gallon tank, I bought them. A tank, tiki sculpture and a red Crown Betta fish who I dubbed King Frederick I. And a few itty-bitty Neon Tetras (whom I'd named 1,2,3 4 & 5).

King Frederick I - R.I.P.

Welllll... There's an amusing/sad/sick story that goes along with that. Seems I'd forgotten about the "Cycle the tank before you add fish" part of aquarium ownership. I also ended up deciding (rather quickly) that 2.5 gallons was a little too small. So I upgraded to a 5 gallon all-in-one tank. And my 2.5 gallon - which was destined for eBay - got converted to a Hospital/Isolation Tank.

It ended up being a Hospice Tank as poor King Frederick I died a very slow, agonizing death. I tried EVERYTHING (within reason) to save him. I surfed the internet and learned WAAAAAY more about Betta Fish than I ever thought I'd need to know! And between duplicating my tank setups, and buying assorted chemicals, medications and whatnot, I figure I spent close to $75.00 trying to save a $7.00 fish!

I watched him decline over a period of several days. Poor guy just laid on his side, on the bottom of the hospital/hospice tank, gasping for whatever it is that fish gasp for. Getting duller and duller until he was almost white.

At one point, DH berated me for allowing him to suffer so. "Can't you just scoop him out of the water and put him out of his misery? This is agonizing to watch!" And I burst into tears "I CAN'T KILL FRED!!!"

In the end, King Frederick I gasped his last gasp, and he got the Royal Flush...

So much for aquariums reducing stress, right?!

(I was telling one of my colleagues my Sad Tale and she suggested that maybe an Aquarium Screen Saver might be a more reasonable alternative!)

In retrospect, I suspect that Fred I was probably sick to begin with. Armed with my newfound knowledge of Betta Fish Ailments, and looking back at pictures I'd taken when I first got him, I think he had parasites because he was rather pot-bellied from the start...

Undaunted, shortly after Fred I's demise, DH and I headed back to the pet store and picked out a Delta-Tailed Blue Betta. He's iridescent blue with red streaks on his fins. Actually rather pretty - to tell ya the truth. Although he blends-in a little too much with the Neon Tetras (of which I only have 1 & 2 now). Anyway, Fred II is thriving and quite full of himself. Whenever I approach the tank, he flares his gills like he wants to fight me!

King Frederick II (Alive and Well)
(Corey the Cory Cat in the background - also alive and well!)

Oh, and I don't feed freeze-dried bloodworms because they cause constipation in Betta Fish (who knew?!!).

So annnnnnyyyyyywaaaaaaaayyyyy... The latest tank, an Eclipse 5 gallon corner tank (all-in-one) is doing just fine now. Fully cycled and all my numbers are in line. I did have a bit of an algae-bloom, but I'm treating that chemically. Anyhow, all is well and all tank inhabitants are doing just fine. That would be Fred II, 1 & 2 (Neon Tetras) and Corey the Cory Cat.

So I suppose *this* is the point where Aquarium Ownership would provide the Stress-Relief I so desperately craved, right?!


Yes, I am a Glutton for Punishment! Not only do I want a bigger, better tank. But I want to upgrade to Saltwater. Not only do I want to do Saltwater, but I want to do a REEF Tank!

During the Holiday Season, Rog and I have this thing where we maintain Wish Lists on Amazon. And anytime I see something that piques my interest, I can add it to my Amazon Wish List using the Universal Wish List button on my toolbar - even if it's not sold by Amazon. It's a pretty cool gadget, actually (and no, I don't get kick-backs for posting it!).

So first I stumbled onto this Aloha Tiki Aquarium. That link, BTW, is the cheapest price I found. I thought that was the coolest thing since sliced bread (since I *love* kitschy tikis!) so I Wish-Listed it. But then I got serious and decided I'd much rather have something suitable for running a Reef Tank. I consulted a friend/colleague of mine and he has a BioCube 29 Reef Aquarium. So I ended up Wish-Listing a Biocube 14.

Long Story Short (too late!). Santa brought me a BioCube 14 and I am Happy as a Clam (get it?!! Clam?! Aquarium?!! Arr Arr!).

Actually, it's pretty cool. No, it's EXTREMELY cool! I actually did maintain a 10 gallon reef tank about 20 years ago, in my apartment (Gawd, did I just say 20 years ago?!! Sh*t I am OLD!). And this was "back-in-the-day" before anyone coined the term Nano-Reef. In fact, back then, it was generally believed that you couldn't run a saltwater tank unless it was at least 50 gallons. Things have come a long way since then and the newer tanks are a WHOLE lot easier to setup and maintain (she says hopefully delusionally).

So I'm surfing the Reef Tank Message Boards and emailing aforementioned Reefer Buddy. There are quite a few modifications that folks have done to their BioCubes and I am hoping that I can set this thing up right - the first time!

My PLAN (hahahaha - don't hold your breath!) is to document my tank set-up here. I've already joined a couple of Reef-Tank message boards, so there *might* be some copy/paste action going on, but the general idea is that I'll post here about how things are progressing with the new Reef Tank Project!

I do loves me a Good Project!

So the status right now is: I've taken the BioCube out of it's box and removed the Bioballs (apparently they attract detritus which can cause nitrate spikes). I've ordered a media basket that will make it easier to tweak around with different types of filtration and not make TOO big of a mess! I also dug out an old TV/Stereo stand that seems to work just fine, size-wise, for the BioCube. That'll save me $100 (which will undoubtedly get spent on OTHER tank gear!). I need Rog to beef it up a bit by cutting a piece of plywood to cover the back, and I'll probably put a coat of sealant on it (b/c the rack itself is probably made of particleboard!).

Old TV stand - now a tank stand (excuse the dust!)
(and the mess - it's the day after Christmas!)

HA! I also have to re-decorate the living room. I want to move the 5 gallon tank to a corner b/c the Reef Tank will now take center-stage in the living room.

So basically there's no water in it. No nothing!

I absolutely DO intend to cycle the hell out of the tank before I add anything to it. It's one thing to kill a $7.00 fish (even spending $75 trying to save it!). It's another thing entirely to kill off several-hundred-dollars' worth of sealife (Trust me, the cost of the tank is probably the CHEAPEST part of setting up a Reef Aquarium!). I intend for the tank to be mostly corals and invertebrates, and maybe a couple-three fish...

So anyhooooooo... That's the Latest 'n Greatest! Hopefully this will evolve into something remotely interesting. Hell, maybe even educational!!!

Stay tuned for updates! :-)

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