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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hurricanes and Sailing

Our friends in St. Thomas just survived another direct hurricane hit. Puerto Rico just lost its complete grid. We'll need some time before we learn how bad things are there.

The hurricane season is barely half over, and it's been a tough one. I follow a lot of sailing blogs and YouTube channels. Some boaters have retreated to the mangroves and their boats survived the storms. Other sailed south to get below the likely path of hurricanes. Many pulled their floating homes out of the water and secured them on land. A number, in spite of their precautions, lost their boats completely.

So, with all the destruction, how do I feel about sailing now? It's been a time for reflection, that's for sure. In the short term, we moved our departure date from the end of November to sometime in January. By then we should have a clearer idea what's going on.

We did not buy a bigger boat this year and I'm happy with that that decision. Next year, if we can swing it financially, we shall upgrade. We might get a bigger trailer sailor so we can get load the boat on a trailer and drive out of harm's way. Another option is to get a bigger boat but keep it out of the hurricane zones.

Originally, we thought we'd like to keep a boat in Florida during the summer. That no longer seems like a great idea. We can either sail up to New England in the spring or keep heading south below the normal hurricane zone.

It might seem crazy to even consider spending half our time on a boat. The thing is, we are water people and have not given up on the life.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Painting and hiding

My lovely wife is painting. I'm hiding from it. My damaged lungs are sensitive to paint fumes. Painting projects are planned for when I'm out of town for a few days. Unfortunately, the kitchen is taking longer to paint than she hoped.

There are a couple of fans going full blast. By the time we go to bed, I can tolerate being upstairs in the bedroom. The downstairs is pretty much off limits for a good part of the day. Yesterday I spent part of the evening out in the van.

I feel bad that I can't help her. Low VOC paints help, but are not perfect. At least I've been able to sand cupboard doors by removing them and taking them outside. We've had a good run of nice weather and are taking full advantage of it.

It's funny, my lovely wife is all concerned about the colors she picked out, worried that I might not like them. Anyone who does the painting can choose the color as far as I'm concerned.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Storm Deals

Most of you have seen pictures and video of the recent hurricane destruction. One really dramatic visual is of all the boats damaged by the storms. Ever wonder what that does to the second hand market?

While I don't want to sound like a vulture, it's a fact of life that wide scale disasters affect markets. The used boat market happens to be one of the more visible ones.

There's two things that most people think of. One is that there should be a lot of handyman specials out there. The second common thought is that with all those boats out of action, demand for boats should be high.

While there are some amazing deals for damaged boats, you have to be really careful. Make sure you have the skills, time, and place to work on a boat. Storm damaged boats are not like other older boats in need of repair. Boats that age through normal use have common and well documented issues. A buyer can research the problems areas and keep an eye out for them. A boat that's been picked off a house with a crane will have issues that are out of the ordinary. Close and in-depth inspections are in order. Many “free” boats will be too expensive to fix.

What about prices going up because so many boats were destroyed? It's not that straight forward. Many boat owners, who's boats were nowhere near the storms, suddenly decided to put their boats on the market. The once vague notion that hurricanes might be an issue becomes a pressing worry. Many are scared of being caught on their boat in a storm. Others don't want to worry about finding a safe place to store their boat during storm season. Insurance increases can also be a factor.

Then there are market forces that have nothing to do with hurricanes. This time of year, here in New England, the boat market has a lot of good deals. The boating season is quickly coming to an end. Boats will need to be pulled out of the water and put in storage. Owners are often willing to make a deal so that weatherization is someone else's problem.

While I'm at it, beware of used cars that were in the flood zone. They may look like a good deal. Then the electrical systems start to fail soon after you buy them. They can also rust in odd places because water gets trapped where it normally doesn't get into.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Days on the Road

I got in late last Sunday night after three days downstate. I was too tired to post my normal blog.

While I was gone my lovely wife started a painting project. Paint fumes cause problems for my damaged lungs so she tries to do these things while I'm away. The project appears to have gotten out of hand. House projects have a tendency to grow.

She had fans going full blast so I was able to sleep in my own bed last night. However, after today's painting I'm probably going to have to sleep out in the van. No biggie. The bed there is comfortable and she'll join me out there.

She's working on the kitchen right now, but I was able to move enough stuff around to start the coffee perking. Life is good.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wounded Old and Treacherous

Nothing like an annoying long term injury to make a person feel old. Pushing 60 doesn't help either. I didn't feel old until that nasty leg infection laid me up for months. The injury, plus the lack of activity, really laid me low.

After a couple days of hard labor working around the house, I was done in. You know it's bad when you shake out two Ibuprofen. One falls on the ground so I take the first and wait for it to kick in before trying to bend down to pick up the second. I had to laugh at myself.

While I can't anything about the calendar, I can get in better condition. That's more important than ever right now. Some people age gracefully. Some just get more ornery. A friend's grandfather, a miserable old cuss pushing 80, used to get into bar fights. He'd kick the tar out of some cocky young guy. My friend and his dad would go down to the jail to bail the old guy out. He knew no one would ever press charges. What young guy wants to admit he got his backside handed to him by an old man?

I don't want to be a miserable old cuss, but I don't want to be a push over either. There are too many adventures to be had yet.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

More details from the ground

While my dad has passed and no longer lives in a FL retirement park, my lovely wife and I still know people who live there. This park is in Brooksville, maybe 50 miles north of Tampa. Early indication were that it wasn't that bad. Everyone we knew got out of the part and were in shelters or hotels.

Last night we got more details. While it wasn't anything like the devastation in the Keys, there were sections that did not do well at all. The two small ponds on the property became one good sized lake. Low lying trailers were flooded.

The scary part was the handful of trailers that had huge oaks come down on them. One of the things that made the park nice was all the shade from the mature trees. Those trees were less nice when falling over in high winds.

The power is still out in the park. In Florida, the lack of AC alone can do damage to a building. Black mold is always a concern. Many trailers were built with wafer board. Less expensive than plywood, it was especially popular with trailers built years ago. Heat and humidity can cause that material to basically fall apart.

I remember a housing development in another part of Florida that suffered from the 2008 housing crash. There were about 300 houses in the project. Very few of them were occupied when the developer when bust. After 6 months of being left without air conditioning, the walls weakened enough that the siding fell off. What a mess. Of course, during the housing boom a lot of construction was pretty slap dash.

I'm guessing that the longer the power outages lasts, the more houses will become unfit for habitation.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Temporary water fix

After a few days messing around with my well and pump, the house finally has water again. I suspected the water pressure was too low to trip the pressure switch. The last time that happened the pump was dying. This time, that wasn't the case. Turns out the problem is somewhere in the buried water line. This line is 66 feet long and 6 – 8 feet deep to get below the frost line.

My temporary solution was to run a hose directly from the pump to the house. It's not buried, so when the hard frosts arrive it will freeze. Fortunately, we are having a really nice September. Warm weather is predicted for 10 days out. That buys me some time.

I really do not want to have to dig up the whole line by hand. There are some trouble spots that I can check out first. There's a section that froze hard one year, so I'm going to check that first. Maybe it was weakened and didn't completely fail until now. With luck I'll find the problem and be able to splice in new line.

What I'd really want to do is to put a new well on my land across the street. It's up hill from the house so gravity would do most of the work. That's not in the budget right now. We were thinking of maybe getting a home loan to catch up on projects we've been putting off. We did not plan on that until the spring.

For this winter, we are going to make the old well work. Maybe when the water line freezes it'll be our cue to head south for the winter.