Sep 172012

Last month I gave a rather brief (yes, brief) run down of all the things I would like to do with the boat.  Everything from a motor to new lines and all things in between.  My over all plan is something sorta kinda simple but will take a lot more outlay of cash to achieve.  I want a boat that I live on to be as green and simple as is possible.  No fossil fuels, or as little as possible.  No relying on land based power, (even at $23.56 a month).  Just a vessel that is as self reliant as I can possibly get it.  I would love to be in position where all I need to do is take on water and food…and cat litter…and remove waste.  A vessel that I can leave here at the dock for as long as I wish, or start doing some sailing around.  How close I will get to that goal remains to be seen.

Money is the prime mover in this adventure.  Or the lack thereof.  If I was able to do all that I outlined in this series it could easily cost me upwards of $10,000 or 5 times what I paid for the boat.   So the big question would be, is it worth it to spend that sort of cash on a vessel that will never give me a return on said spending?  Many would argue no, but after walking around Duval this past weekend looking at all the $50,000 motorcycles that are not even fit to ride, I feel a bit more comfortable with my plans.  At least if I did all that I wanted to the Fritter I would have something viable and usable.

The upside is that I am not on any particular kind of deadline to get all this stuff done.  I’m quite comfortable at this marina and everything seems ok.  It’s about as affordable as it’s going to get here in Key West, short of becoming homeless and living under the bridge…and after some hesitation, I’m starting to adjust to boat living again.  So, here is the basic plan for the plan, if indeed I do plan to plan out the plan…or something to that effect.

Electrics:  Yeah, I know, what’s the point, my electric bill is $23 a month and will drop.  Why worry about it?  I can do better.  If I ain’t tied into the grid and producing my own power, nobody can shut it off.  I have a couple LED lights, the fridge (soon to be the icebox), plus a computer and iphone to charge.  The ac is the killer.  There is no way I will be able to produce enough juice to keep the place cool so when I am in port, I hook up the power and pay the bill.  Not a big deal.  But away from the slip, or when the grid goes out, it would be nice to still have power.  The other issue is I will need my own power for things like navigation lights, VHS radio, maybe a GPS, and the motor.

When the weather cools off some I will start rooting around and seeing what needs to be done.  Probably some new wiring, batteries for sure, and then start looking at solar panels and wind generators, and where I can mount them.  That will be the most expensive part of the electrics so it may be awhile before I am fully free of the grid.  The other aspect is I will probably need to run some new wiring around, which means crawling around in tight spaces, and moving stuff around.  Right now I have plenty of room so might as well do it before I add other things in.

IceBox:  The cube fridge I currently have works fine.  Keeps stuff cold, a small freezer, but it’s in the way.  It sits on one of the quarter berths and always seems to be a nuisance.  It doesn’t hold a lot and I would rather get rid of it if I can get the icebox working.  As I mentioned before, the ice box doesn’t hold ice very well.  A 16 lb. bag lasted less than 12 hours.  To get the ice box to be a usable cooler I will need to get in and add more insulation around the box.  Right now I have plenty of room to do that.  I can crawl in behind and also remove a couple of cabinets to add in the insulation.  I would like to take it a step further and wire in a 12 volt cold plate system so it works just like a fridge but on battery power.  How well?  I am not sure.  But the current icebox is nearly twice the size of the fridge, is built into the cabinets, and is out of the way.  Seems a shame not to utilize it.

Head:  While I could really use a toilet on the boat right now, it is something that will wait until I get at least the previous two projects completed.  The reason?  With no toilet or holding tank in place I have plenty of room to get in and out of the spaces where I need to go to work on the electrics and icebox.  Once the toilet is in place, I lose a lot of room, and I will need to find a new place for the cat litter box.

Water:  At the same time I am doing the toilet, I will probably tackle the water issue.  Check out the forward tank for leaks, run new line and a pump to the galley, and install a new faucet.

Motor:  In some respects this is going to be more of a priority.  The marina wants all vessels to be seaworthy in event of evacuation due to storm, fires, or non payment of bills.  I would really, really, really prefer an electric engine.  They are quiet, no maintenance, and just as powerful as a gas engine.  But the ones I am looking at cost over $4,000, plus the batteries to power them.  Outboards are half the price and even less if I go used.  There are used outboards for sale all the time for cheap and I could easily grab one just to have so in case I need to move I could.  But I so do not want to go that route.  I am flat out fed up with dealing with oil companies and all the bullshit that goes with them.  Everytime I walk around the marina or even the island, somebody is broke down by the side of the road, or the channel, hood up, digging into the damn engine.  I watch the gas prices go up and up with every crisis, be it real or manufactured.  I have done had it with the internal combustion engine.  In an emergency I will have to go back to an outboard, but if the coins fall the right way, I am going electric.

Bottom:  At some point I will need to jump in and clean the bottom.  It is way over due but if I do this myself I will need to purchase some dive gear.  While I can use said dive gear for other things, like catching supper, I would prefer not to drop that sort of cash right now.  I can always pay somebody to clean it for me.  It would be cheaper for now and there are plenty of bottom scrapers running around, but I really need to do this myself.  When I decide to do some sailing it will have to be done along with new paint.

The Rest:  Everything else, new halyards and sheets, new cushions in the cabin, replacing some broken hardware, all the little bits and pieces will be on an ongoing basis.  Targets of opportunity if you will.  Perhaps I will be roaming around West Marine and find something on sale that I need.  Or maybe take a day and hit a nautical flea market.  See what deals are out there.  It all depends on the timing and the amount of extra cash I might have in my pocket.  Some projects, like the grill are done and working great.  At least I can cook again.

But:  Let me be straight up about all this.  The Fritter is for sale.  It has been for sale ever since I got the title in my name.  It’s not advertised for sale, I am not actively trying to get rid of the boat, but it is for sale…or trade.  I am always, always, always, looking for something else.  Perhaps another boat that requires less than what I need to put into this one.  Maybe that catamaran will come sailing in someday, with my name on it.  Per chance somebody will be looking to trade an rv  that looks juuuuuust right for a sailboat.  Or I will get an offer for what I have invested in the boat so far.  For the right offer, the Fritter is history.

I am not sorry I bought the boat, but from a minimalist point of view, I am stuck with a possession that is large, requires a lot of maintenance and care, has a liability factor, and is too some extent, a distraction.  I would really prefer not to have such a possession at this time, like a vehicle, or property, but you have to live somewhere, and for all the downsides and cash outlay I am looking at, the Fritter provides a lot of value:  a place to live, transportation of a sort, a stop along the way to plan for the next journey or adventure.  How long I will keep the Fritter, and how much I will actually get done in regards to all the projects listed above, I don’t know.  Whether it happens or not, there are positives either way.  For now, it’s home base.

Capt. Fritter


  3 Responses to “Living Aboard, Prioritizing the Projects…”

  1. there is a teaching in ancient eastern philosophy called ‘abode of vacancy.’
    maybe you’ve read about it? i have always loved it as a thought. a reality.
    the reality being. . . nothing in this world is permanent. earthquake, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, fire . . . you get the picture. if in your heart, your home can be ‘an abode of vacancy’ you will find
    true happiness. and i’d say, you’re there.