Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finally got the wind-vane through customs

Everything came together and I was able to get the new wind vane cleared through customs. What a colossal hassle.

Apparently warehouses where packages are stored rarely accept anything but money orders for their fees (I was charged for each day the package sat there waiting to get inspected and picked up). They don't take checks, cash, or credit cards. I ended up stopping at a gas station and noticed a "We Have Money Orders" sign on their window... this saved me a stop at a supermarket.

Unfortunately my customs broker didn't tell me they don't accept credit cards. I had to run out to another gas station and use an ATM to get cash for them.

After finally getting the package down to Sarasota from the Tampa airport i was ready to try an install but the rain was coming down and didn't stop all night. The install will have to wait a day or two.

Monday, November 9, 2009

An Adventure of a Different Sort

I haven't updated the site in a while. Mostly there hasn't been anything exciting to write about. I've been sailing a bit but its mostly up and down the Sarasota Bay. During the summer it was too hot and muggy to work up the energy to sail, but now that thing are cooling off a bit its a little fun to head out.

This update is mostly about my experiences (so far) of buying an overseas item.

I finally decided to get a wind-powered, self-steering system for the boat. This is probably the single most important piece of hardware after the hull and the sails. Without one of these devices I simply could not make an ocean crossing. Heck, I couldn't even sail down to the Florida keys without this.

The company I'm buying from is in Germany. If you're interested in what a wind vane looks like or how it works are some videos of them in action (click on "Sailing" link once there).

Dealing with Peter (the owner of this company) was fine. We came to an agreement, I paid, and he shipped. Now the adventure starts. (I have never bought anything from overseas before. If you have then I'm sure this will all be boring to you.)

I called the place where the package was delivered to verify it was there and make arrangements to pick it up. The fella on the other end of the phone asks me the value of the package, so I tell him how much I paid. I'm informed that I need to call the Customs Office to see if I can "self clear" the item. Apparently items over $2,000 cannot usually be self cleared but sometimes there are exceptions.

I called the Customs Office and spoke with a friendly person there. However, she told me that this item cannot be self-cleared so i had to hire a Customs Broker.

How stupid is this? The government is deciding that I am not capable of filling out paperwork based on the dollar amount of the item? If they had said I had to get a broker because this was my first time I could understand. But my competence is rated by the value of the item? So now I had to find a Customs Broker.

The Homeland Security web site has a list of brokers they deal with in each city, so I called the first one on the list. It turns out they only broker items that arrive via truck or boat. I needed a broker that deals with items arriving via air. So I call the next broker on the list and I strike gold! I found somebody I could pay to fill out forms on my behalf. This service will be provided for about $200.

Of course, first I have to fill out forms myself that give the broker the right to fill out forms on my behalf.

Now that that part is out of the way my broker has spent half a day determining whether or not I have to pay duty on this item. Apparently she is wading through mountains of books trying to make this decision. I have no idea how much money this will or won't save. All I know is that if the government doesn't charge a duty then there are plenty of other fees they can charge to get their cut.

I'm still waiting on a callback since she couldn't find the information she needed on the first volume of books.

This experience isn't even over yet but I can already tell you that, in the future, I'll buy domestic parts even if they aren't as good and cost more money (which is the case with this wind vane). Its our governments job to make it difficult to buy the things we need elsewhere and they are really doing a good job of it so far.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sarasota Bay: A pleasant, mid-week sail

On Tuesday I decided to go for a sail. The sun has been setting around 8:30 local time and the winds tend to be light but consistent in the evening, so after work I called up Wyatt and the two of us were on the water by 5:30.

I’m proud to say that the sail was pretty uneventful. Nothing really bad happened at all. I didn’t forget anything and it didn’t rain. Sweet! I could get used to that.

I decided that now was as good a time as any to see how the boat heaves-to. For those not familiar with heaving-to, it a technique used to stop the boat on the water in a controlled way. This is handy in a variety of situation… for example, if the Coast Guard pulls up next to me and yells, “Heave-to and prepare to be boarded!”, or if I just want to go below decks to grab a sandwich.

This is something they don’t officially teach you in the sailing school I went too, but it is in the “Fundamentals” book. Back when I was getting my certifications I’d asked my instructor to show me how to do it and he obliged. This was in a Catalina 22 and is the only boat I had ever heaved-to with before.

It turns out that heaving-to on a C&C 27 is hard… if it’s even possible at all. The best I could manage was a backed-jib and a very slow sailing boat. The main sheet was completely eased, as its supposed to be, and the rudder was all the way windward, but the boat was still sailing, albeit very slowly, in the direction the bow was pointed.

I’ll definitely try this again, perhaps rolling up the genoa to a shorter length so it catches less wind.

The other failed maneuver was an attempt to sail under the bridge. We probably could have achieved this if my self-imposed rules weren’t so rigid. The wind was coming from the northwest and the bridge was located more of a north-northwest. There is plenty of room in the Sarasota Bay to tack towards the bridge but the Bay does narrow a bit right at the bridge. My self-imposed rule was that we must sail through the center of the bridge where the navigation lights were located, even though we could probably safely sail to the west of that just fine.

We approached the bridge twice, but the first time I miscalculated the angle needed and we had to bear off about 60 yards from the bridge. The second attempt was much closer. We actually got beneath the bridge but we hadn’t gained enough speed to carry us safely through the lull caused by the bridge supports. We had to bear off at the last second or risk drifting into the leeward support.

Still, while it was not successful in that regard, it was a lot of fun trying and it was really nice to pass the evening on the water. I’ll probably try to get on the water at least one evening every week while the sun is setting so late. With the solstice just around the corner (this coming Saturday, I believe) the days will start getting a little shorter, but I’m sure I can keep this up for another 5 weeks or so.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sarasota Bay and the Gray Columns

Last Sunday I went sailing with Wyatt, a poker buddy. It was high time I tested out the new genoa and see how she handled. Wyatt volunteered as he’d never been sailing and wanted to try it out.

It had been a while since I last went out and it’s amazing how many lessons one forgets.

I got to the boat a little early to prep her. This mostly meant I planned on stowing things that would fall about once we started heeling. However, once I got on the boat I started looking at the dock lines and tried to figure out a way to disengage them that would make it easier to pull them in when we got back. I still need to come up with a good system that will let me tie up single-handed.

One would think this shouldn’t be to tasking. I’d seen Andy, a neighbor of mine who owns a Morgan 32’, successfully dock while so drunk he could barely talk. If he could manage a single-handed docking in such a state, then surely I could.

Wyatt arrived while I was working this out still, so I gave up on the planning action and just cast off. Time to do some sailing!

The engine still starts up like a charm. I’ve had a couple of mechanics tell me that the engine alone is worth the price I paid for the boat.

We motored out of the marina and as we were in the channel out I decided to test the furling genoa. Untie one line, pull on the port genoa sheet, and the sail unfolded beautifully. The boat jumped forward and she was really hauling! The forecast had said the winds were going to be 5-10 mph, but I think they were a tad higher than that. I’m pretty sure we were already moving near hull speed and I hadn’t even raised the main yet.

Which brings around forgotten lesson number one: raise the main first if you are going to do so at all.

Boats don’t sail well towards the wind with just the genoa up… the genoa tends to cause the boat to bear away from the wind. However, to raise the main sail I needed to turn the boat into the wind. Catch-22 here. Grr.

I went forward to raise the main anyway. The wind was still light enough and we were on a Close Reach and I figured I could man-handle it up. This where I discovered the second lesson I’d forgotten: check rigging before you get underway.

The shackle I use to attach the halyard to the head of the sail was nowhere to be found. I’m guessing that it get removed or misplaced when the sail-maker was installing the furling genoa. Fortunately, I knew I had a spare so I went below to get it. Unfortunately, it was not the right size shackle. This new one was too large to fit through the holes on both the sail head and the halyard. Sigh.

Well… no big deal. The wind was improving and we were well into the Bay now. We headed north under the big bridge and relaxed.

After about 20 minutes of sailing I chanced a look behind the boat and noticed a dark column advancing from the gulf towards shore. Nasty looking rain storm there. It’s interesting in Florida that you can actually see these storms as individual things, almost like large tornadoes with less wind and lots of rain. This one, I judged, would miss us. We were now a couple of miles north of the bridge.

Sure enough, in about 10 minutes we saw the storm hit the bridge. One minute the bridge was clear and big behind us, and the next minute it was gone—devoured by a gray blanket. There was literally no sign this massive structure ever existed. The sky above us was still nice and clear although the breeze was really picking up now.

Out of the blue Wyatt came up with an idea. He asked if one of the padlocks I had sitting around would fit in the halyard, and if so, could we use it to raise the main. Good idea! I wish I had thought of it. In fact, I was a little flustered that I didn’t. I grabbed a padlock and tested it out… it fit perfectly.

And thus came the third forgotten lesson: remember lesson one. I started to hoist the main and had Wyatt turn us into the wind. Several things happened… none of them good. First, as Wyatt turned into the wind we hit a radical new point of sail which called for an adjustment on the genoa. We heeled *way* over very quickly. Secondly, I heard all sorts of crashing from inside the cabin at which point I recalled I never did get around to securing everything inside. And finally, it was all for naught since, as lesson one told us, you can’t turn into the wind very well with the genoa alone and there was no way I could raise the main with the wind.

I gave up on the idea of getting the main sail up now. We kicked back and relaxed again (I’d deal with the mess in the cabin when we got back to the dock).

After another 10 minutes of very nice sailing Wyatt spotted another storm approaching, only this one was going to hit close to where we were and definitely in the area we were sailing toward. Time to turn about and head back to the now visible bridge behind us.

Unfortunately, there had been a slight change in the wind and sailing back to the bridge mean sailing close hauled. This was going to be hard without the main sail up. We did the best we could though by falling off the wind a little and settling into a close reach.

However, this dark storm heading towards was getting larger by the minute. I kept a close on eye it over the next several minutes and came to the conclusion that we were going get drenched. It was just too big and we weren’t sailing as fast as we were. When the gray blanket covered the windward shore and completely obscured it from view I knew the time was upon us. I secured up the genoa (Woot! Love that roller, baby!) and started the engine. 30 seconds later we were completely drenched.

When this baby hit us it was like stepping into an episode of The Twilight Zone. Our world was immediately reduced to a 60’ circle around us. The rest of the universe was gray and empty. I’d been steering by sight and now I had nothing to steer by at all. If I had been less occupied with engine and genoa I might have glanced at the compass to get a heading but, alas, I hadn’t. Wyatt volunteered to go forward and extend my visual range by 25’ or so.

Every so often the gray would thin out and we could see as far as 150’. While I couldn’t see land or any channel markers, it did let me spot a boat that had been under sail and also headed towards the bridge just before the storm hit. Those folks were still under sail although they seemed to be having issues with their genoa, but their heading was far more to the starboard than mine, so I adjusted my course to match theirs before the visibility dropped off again.

Finally, we got close enough to make out the bridge ahead of us and the storm eased up a little bit. By the time we hit the channel markers to the marina the storm had let up to a soft rain and visibility wasn’t too bad. However, we were definitely done. Both Wyatt and I were very soggy and the breeze was more than just a little cool.

Docking went very smoothly. I’m not certain I could have pulled it off single-handed yet, but it went very well and I was glad I planned it out before hand.

Once the boat was tied up properly I looked into the cabin to see what the earlier commotion was. Egads. It was a huge mess. And a bit soggy too. I straightened up best I could and offered Wyatt a towel and some dry clothes. (The clothes were quite funny on him. He is easily half my weight although about the same height. Thank god my shorts are mostly draw-strings.)

Once again I had turned a leisure sail into an adventure. Wyatt was entertained and wants to go again. I’m not sure I can promise him another adventure like this one, but odds are something will pop up.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Stuff that's happened lately

Hello everyone!

Its been quite a while since my last blog entry but things have been happening. As I mentioned in the last entry I had moved my boat to Sarasota. She’s docked at Marina Jack’s which is right in the middle of downtown Sarasota and only a short trip to the Gulf.

I’m presently living on my boat “part-time”. The marina rules state that they cannot have full time live aboards and give a definition of what they mean by “live aboard”. Since I work in downtown Sarasota—only a 15 minute walk from the marina—its very convenient for me to stay on the boat. However, since they have a clearly defined rule and I can’t really afford to get kicked out of the marina, I still spend a few nights a week at Jimi’s in Port Charlotte (which is about 50 miles away).

My mother came down for a week stay and during that time we went on a short sail into the gulf. Peter, who had helped me move the boat from Punta Gorda to Sarasota, and his wife Jeanne came along for the ride.

The wind and weather reports had forecast a sunny day with reasonable wind and waves in the Gulf to about 2 foot. When we cast off the wind was a little low and the waters in the Sarasota Bay were a tad choppy. Not bad, really, but I should have taken this as a warning.

We motored south--against the wind--to get to Big Pass. As we entered the 25’ water right before we get to the channel markers at Big Pass we got a look at the Gulf waters. The waves look a tad bigger than 2’. They sort of looked huge.

However, that stretch of water is really, really shallow. In fact, there were birds actually walking on water between us and those waves. The Gulf waves hit that shallow area and crest, making it look much worse than it really is. I kept thinking that all the way up until we made the turn into the channel markers where we finally had real access to the Gulf. The waves were definitely larger than 2 foot… more like 4 foot with a 5 second frequency. Ugh.

Jeanne hadn’t been on a sailboat before, and I knew my mother was very uncomfortable with water, so I decided maybe we should head back. However, the whole crew assured me that they felt ok and wanted to go ahead and try it. It wasn’t a matter of safety with me, I was 100% confident in my boat and knew she could handle way more than this, I was just concerned about the comfort of my crew. Since they wanted to keep going I was game.

The next 15 minutes were pure torture with a dash of adventure. I was correct when I mentioned the behavior of the waves in relation to the water depth. I had miscalculated the affect it would have as we went through it into the relatively calmer waters of the Gulf proper. The boat pounded through the channel and finally into the Gulf. Unfortunately the wave heights were still a little larger than anticipated, but manageable. I went forward to manhandle the sails so we could finally cut the engine. This was the adventure part.

Anyhow, once we got to sailing and shut of the engine it was a very enjoyable sail. There were some green faces when we turned around to head back and boat settled into a corkscrewing motion, but we adjusted course somewhat to alleviate that.

That’s the only time I’ve been out since the move to Sarasota and now.

I’m a little disappointed in myself that I haven’t gone out more. With working full time and a side job that consumes much of my weekend its not as easy to just toss the lines and cut loose for a couple of hours as I thought it would be. However, I have been getting some work done on the boat.

I finally got my furling genoa installed. This was one of my big ticket items and something that I felt had to be done before I head to the oceans. I had some minor work done on the diesel engine which a surveyor had told me was critical (cracks in the exhaust hose). The interior of the boat got a thorough cleaning while my mother was here. I’ve also replaced the dinette table with something that was more comfortable to work on.

My next projects are some work on the mast which needs a windex (a device which shows the direction the wind is coming from) and the anchor lights replaced. I’m also getting the steaming light replaced as it stopped functioning during the trip up from Punta Gorda. The biggest project, and the last “critical” one before I can make passages, is some form of self-steering.

I plan on doing some sailing on the Sarasota Bay this weekend. In fact, I’ll probably be headed out with Jimi and Arrielle as soon as they get back from Arrielle’s bowling league outing.

Until next time!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Punta Gorda to Sarasota

A good weather window, crew, and a day off from work. Everything was pointing towards a good opportunity to get my boat from Punta Gorda to its new berth in Sarasota.

I was pretty certain as early as Tuesday that I would be making the trip. The forecasts were all pretty good and, almost as importantly, I'd already paid for the slip. My boss gave me the okay to take Friday off work so I could have a 3 day chance to get the boat up there. Its roughly a 60 mile trip by water and, while the forecasts were good, all that could change.

Also, I had planned on making the trip single-handed. Jimi's work has been picking up to the point were he has to work on the weekends now. While he wasn't sure what the upcoming weekend would bring, I had a feeling that he wouldn't be available and planned accordingly.

However, I got news that a poker-buddy of mine was interested in going. While I knew that I could make the trip by myself, its much nicer to have crew. My boat doesn't have any self-steering yet and a solo trip would mean I'd have to man the wheel the entire trip. So when Peter volunteered I was relieved.

Of all the trips I've made this one had the most planning go into it. I printed out weather forecasts (including some excellent information like wave height and frequency, wind directions and strength predictions, and all in 3-hour intervals), tide predictions all along the route, and reviewed the charts for hours. I bought food and water for 3 days. Over the last week I had filled all my fuel cans
with diesal and made sure the boat's tank was full. I was prepared.

The biggest unknown in the trip was if I could do it in one day. Mary had told me she'd made the same trip before and she had stopped overnight in the Venice inlet (where there is a free anchorage) which is about 4/5 of the way to Sarasota. Based on the tides (which were sort of against me for the first 5 hours of the trip) I suspected that I'd have to anchor the night in Venice.

Peter and I arrived at the boat at 7:10am on Friday morning. It only took about 10 minutes to get the boat ready to cast off. Mostly this was just checking the fuel and getting all lines in. I started the engine and gave the boat some throttle to clear the dock and head out the channel... only the boat didn't move.

Low tide was at 6:45am. High tide wouldn't occur until 10:45pm! My keel was firmly in the mud. This, of course, hearkens back to my single-handed sail 6 weeks ago where I discovered that the canals in Punta Gorda are much lower than they are supposed to be. I knew the tide would be very low, but I hadn't realized that my boat was actually sitting in mud when the tide was at its lowest.

Well, I had been aground before as anyone who reads my blogs knows, so I knew how to get out of this. Peter and I leaned as far as possible to one side of the boat to lift the keel out of the water and I tried shoving off the dock. No go. Attempt two was grabbing a pile with a boat hook and attempting to pull while Peter gunned the engine. No go. Attempt three was attaching a line to a piling and
pulling while doing the engine thing again. Nope.

Finally, Peter suggested lowering the line on the piling, and I attached the other end to a winch. This method showed some promise and ultimately worked when we throttled up the engine. This had an unfortunate side effect of crushing one of my lifeline stantions when the boat lurched free and I was unable to ease the line on the winch in time... but I already needed to replace another stantion that was
bent in exactly the same way by some previous owner.

At last, we were free and on our way. It was now 8:00am... a loss of 40 minutes.

The 40 minutes disturbed me more than it should have. Despite having planned on anchoring in Venice (I had printed special instructions on exactly how to get there and made myself familiar with the charts of the area) I was really hoping to make it all the way to Sarasota in one day. Most sailors will tell you that you shouldn't be worried about time while sailing, its the journey that matters. Its obvious I haven't discarded all my old habits and worries yet.

However, the trip down Charlotte Harbor went well. I raised the sails as soon as we got in the main channel but I kept the engine running. This motor sailing technique was really moving us along quickly... we were making over 6.5 miles an hour according to the GPS. We reached Boca Grande almost right on time with my original estimate... we were approaching it right at noon.

Boca Grande is the pass from Charlotte Harbor into the Gulf of Mexico. Since the tide was coming in we had to fight a strong current as we entered the outlet. Our speed as we approached was down to 5 mph or so.

As we got closer and closer I kept looking at the charts. Its a really peculiar bit of water, where the channel has areas that are more than 50' deep, surrounded by others areas that are only 2' deep. This makes for excellent tarpin fishing (or so I'm told). Because of the shallow areas you have to carefully follow the buoys which lead southwest to the gulf... the opposite direction I wanted to go. I noticed a very narrow path which was literally 30 yards from shore that, if done properly, would let me bypass the buoys and head straight north along the shore, then eventually out to the deeper gulf waters. This could save 45 minutes to an hour!

As I was thinking this and looking towards the area I would need to sail, I noticed a mast moving behind the beach. Another sailboat was taking the reverse of the course I was considering!

Let me tell you, I was very tempted to try it. But better sense finally prevailed and we headed to the first of the buoys. I don't know if I could have done it or not. If I had noticed this small path earlier I might have asked around on the net to see what others have experienced there. But the risk didn't seem worth the gain now... after all, we had somehow made my original planned time to Boca Grande despite the late start. Perhaps we could make up more time on the journey north.

we kept motor-sailing even though I despised the engine noise. We were really make good time as we went north, sometimes reaching 7.8 mph. The were close hauled for several hours. The breeze felt good, the sun was shining, and the gulf waters were beautiful.

At some point Peter was fiddling with the GPS and finally discovered how to enter way points. I'd never bothered... I really hated the clunky 1980s feel of this particular model and basically just used the thing as a speedometer and for coordinates. Peter was not deterred by the fact that we couldn't find the manual and kept poking it until it yielded results to his satisfaction. Eventually he was able to state we had 15 miles until we reached the Venice inlet. Then 10. 5. And then we were there.

It was about 4:00pm as we reached the way point where we could turn into the inlet and anchor for the evening. We could make phone calls, eat dinner, perhaps play a game of chess.

Or... we could keep on trucking up the coast and see if we couldn't hit way point number 2... the Big Pass inlet at Sarasota... before the very real deadline of 6:30pm.

I've had several knowledgeable people tell me that Big Pass is a very treacherous inlet. The dock master at my new marina warned to absolutely not try to enter that pass at dark, and a couple of co-workers who fish in the area said the same thing. I knew that the sun would be setting a roughly 6:30, and once it set we would have only another 10-15 minutes of light left. That meant we had to hit the first buoy before 6:30pm if we wanted to enter the area safely.

I decided to go for it. We'd made good time so far, meeting all my mental way points almost exactly at the time I was hoping. I was confident we could hit the mark here, too.

So onward we went.

The gulf breeze really kicked up a notch while we headed northward on this leg. I was a bit put off by that since the forecast had been for 2 mph winds at this time of day. I was more put off by the fact that we were now heading right into it. I had to take the sails down because they were starting to luff quite a bit and were now probably hindering us rather than giving us a boost.

Because the wind had picked up so much that meant the previously glassy gulf waters had now started to get a bit more frisky. The waves weren't much larger than the predicted 1 foot or so, but their frequency had definitely increased and we were starting to catch a lot of spray.

As the sky turned orange and the sun was hovering over the western gulf we hit the first marker for the Big Pass. The sun set a couple minutes after we passed it and it as 6:30pm on the nose.

Unfortunately, it seemed a lot darker than I expected. It was pretty hard to make out the next buoys in the fading light. Peter was forward spotting the markers and, based on advice from the dock master, I stayed to the far right of the channel. In fact, I was actually out of the channel by a few feet. I was very nervous as we hit depths of 6 feet and less.

However, with Peter pointing out the channel markers and a few other boats in channel at the same time, we navigated the hazardous part without incident and entered the main part of the pass with depths as much as 25' and more. That was nerve wracking, but probably not as stressful as the ICW trip Jimi and I had made at night, in the rain.

There were actually a few other special moments as we approached the marina. We were following a cruise boat called "Marina Jack II" which, of course, I had seen at the marina several times. I naturally assumed it was going home and we could just follow it in. Turns out they had more cruising to do and motored right on past the channel to the marina. Luckily we had another boat we could follow in as we still were having a hard time making out the channel markers into the marina.

We docked safely in my new slip and Jimi was there to help tie us up and give us a ride home. We celebrated the successful adventure by having a steak and a drink on the way back to Port Charlotte.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Events: The Good and the Bad

I couple of noteworthy items occurred this last week.

The first is that I finally got enough money together to secure a slip in Sarasota. My boats new home will be in Marina Jack's, a very nice marina practically in downtown Sarasota.

It's a 12 minute walk to work from my slip. This is much nicer than the previous 50 minute drive I had from Jimi's house in Port Charlotte. This will save me almost $400 a month in gas. There is an Irish Pub and Restaurant called O'Malley's about 4 minutes away. I haven't been there yet but I'm crossing my fingers that its a decent place. There are also several other nice restaurants and social establishments nearby.

The cost to get in there was much less than I originally expected it would be. Lets just say the fuel and time savings driving back and forth to work *more* than make up for the slip rental.

Of course, I still plan on spending time at Jimi's. I'll probably drive down there at least once during the week and then on some weekends.

The second noteworthy event was my foray into boat plumbing.

If you've ever wondered what changing a marine toilet would be like; wonder no further. It sucks.

The toilet on the boat has leaked since I bought it. There was a small crack at the base of the pump and, whenever the pump was utilized, waste water would ooze from it. I discovered this immediately and in my capacity as captain I ordered it never be used again. This law made for some discomfort during my lengthier journeys, but the law was observed.

When I secured the slip in Sarasota I knew the trip would take about 2 days. And since I figured Jimi and Arrielle would be coming with me it seemed wisest to replace the toilet with a new working model.

I went to West Marine and bought the same model I currently had. I was worried about the amount of space the new toilet would take up... the current one fits exactly into the space available, not even a quarter of an inch on either side. Buying the same model helped put my mind at ease there. Then came the dreaded part: installation.

Actually, installing the new toilet wasn't too bad. Its removing the old one that sucked a lot. Even though I hadn't used it in 4 months there was still plenty of shitty water (literally) in the hoses. The next hour of labor was pretty foul.

I finally got the old one out and the new one mostly in (having some issue with driving the screws in... they are in very awkward, hard to work in space). The hoses and fittings were all properly connected and my initial testing showed no major leaking connections. And most importantly, I didn't sink the boat.

I don't really like doing this type of work, I never have. However, I do find some satisfaction in getting it done. I also learned some important things about the boat which I might not have noticed otherwise. First, I have a through-hull valve that is frozen open. This is very bad. Luckily, this particular through-hull is connected to another valve which allows me to shut-off the flow if needed. I also have a better feel about how the plumbing system works, which is good because if it ever fails catastrophically while I'm sailing around the world there is now a better chance I can diagnose and fix the issue.

Anyway, this is how I spent my Friday evening.

Unfortunately I had to delay the boats move to Sarasota. Between the toilet job and some rough weather coming in on Sunday it didn't seem prudent to try to do it. Hopefully there is a good weather window next weekend.