Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The "Joys" of Packing

Something I have been putting off is unpacking and re-organizing all my stuff that I have accumulated and hauled with me, some of it for 20 years.  There were many bags and boxes, four that I had simply labeled “crap”.  I decided to attack this monumental task and sort thru and organize everything I own before we leave so it’s not waiting for me when I get back.  Here are categories I have been sorting my stuff into; trash, shred, recycle, craigslist, garage sale, donate to charity, electronics, office stuff, toys, crafts, costumes, sentimental nostalgia, skinny clothes, Alaska clothes, and Alaska stuff.

Cool stuff I found while cleaning!

The "Alaska stuff" are things I have set aside that I think would be useful this summer; small carabiners, bug repellant wipes, a hammock made out of parachute material that fits into a tiny stuff sack, two super absorbent towels (they are made by Speedo and I used them for swimming but I think these days they are called sham-wow’s), a refrigerator magnet that is a mini tupperware for neosporn and band-aids, automatic travel umbrella, water tight containers, luggage tags, candles, eighteen foot nylon tow strap rated for 6,000 pounds, folding exacto knife and extra blades, illuminated screwdriver with bit set, safety LED flashlight (with a red strobe option in for safety and a magnetic end for hands-free versatility), travel picnic blanket with velcro close and handle (aka- baby floor mat), and an old fashioned laminated placemat that has a star chart printed on it.  Surprisingly all this fits into a canvas grocery bag.

and it all fits in one bag

I have also started a pack list that includes food, first-aid kit, electronics, our bicycles and things for Gage, myself & Rob.  I only want to publish the list once so I will wait until it is complete...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Our RV, Big O'

The first leg of our trip will be two weeks in our RV.  We named our RV, Big O’,  and it is one of a kind.  Rob and his brother spent three months converting an empty cargo configuration (empty except for a driver and passenger seat) 2008 Dodge Sprinter into a luxury custom RV.  Big O’ is equipped with a forty gallon fresh water tank, a four gallon propane tank and a solar panel on the roof that keeps the two house batteries charged.   The exterior is still plain white and looks like a standard issue cargo van (this was intentionally done for security purposes) but the inside is beautiful and brilliantly laid out.  

Big O' in San Ysidro, NM

The van was split into two separate rooms.  The main room is the bedroom, kitchen and living room. The sleeping area has a twin or queen size bed with custom overhead cupboards for bedding and clothes, there is also a closet.  My favorite little addition are the custom curtains that partition off the bed.  Perfect if you want a dark place to nap during the day.  The kitchen has custom cupboards, a two burner stove, refrigerator, sink, silverware drawer and plenty of storage for pantry goods and pots and pans.  The driver and passenger seats are custom upholstered and swivel to face the living area.  There is even a storage compartment for our port-a-potty.  

Queen Bed Configuration

The second room is accessed from the rear double doors and is the cargo area.  It takes up the last four feet at the back of the RV but is also utilizes the space under the bed.  This area was made specifically to accommodate our trials motorcycles.  The area has been completely sprayed with LineX (pick-up truck bed liner) to keep fuel and oil fumes out of the living area but also to make it waterproof for our shower.  The flash water heater and the batteries for the “house” system are stored it the cargo area.  We also stow our tools, shovel, folding chairs, barbecue, cleaning supplies, bike ramp, trials motorcycles, helmets and other riding gear back here.  For our trip to Tacoma we will leave our motorcycles and gear and fill the cargo area with winter clothing, baby necessities, bicycles and other supplies.  

Cargo Locker (empty)

We use the propane system for the flash water heater, stove, infrared heaters and the barbecue.  The flash water heater and stove have direct piping but the heaters and barbecue attach via quick-disconnect attachments (super brilliant).  There is a quick-disconnect in the main living area and one in the cargo compartment for the heaters.  The cargo heater is awesome when it’s not warm out and you are taking a shower.  The barbecue mounts to the side of the rig and it’s quick-disconnect is in the wheel well.  When we travel we cap that quick-disconnect to keep the dirt out.  

Cargo Locker (full)
The twelve volt electrical system powers the refrigerator, ventilation fans, and LED lights.  There are three rheostats (dim-able light switches) in the main room for special dim-able LED’s.  Two rheostats are mounted on the wall near the sliding side door, one for the lights overhead and one for the lights under the upper cupboards (great for food prep, mood lighting, or when you need some light but you don’t want to wake everyone in the rig).  The last rheostat is centered on the wall over the bed between two reading lights.  Each reading light has an individual power switch on it (so both lights don’t have to be on if one person wants to sleep).  There is a ventilation fan in the ceiling of each compartment.  They are both multi-speed.  The fan for the main living space is controlled by remote; it not only powers on and off but can controll various speeds and can switch directions to pull air in or suck air out.

Big O' camping in Las Vegas, NM.

Make: Dodge
Model: Sprinter 2500, 170”
Exterior Length: 22’ 10”
Exterior Height: 11’ 2” 
Exterior Width: 6’ 8” (without mirrors)
Engine Brand: Mercedes-Benz
Engine Total Power: 154 HP
Engine Model: OM 642 LA CID 182
Engine Type: Diesel V6, 3.0L
Transmission: Automatic 5-speed
Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive
Miles Per Gallon: 20 mpg

Big O' as part of a seven vehicle caravan touring the Cascades in WA.

Fresh Water Tank: 40 Gallons
Diesel Tank: 25 Gallons
Propane Tank: 4 Gallons
Holding Tank: 8 Gallons
Electrical Equipment
12v Electrical Circuit
Ventilation Fans (2)
LED Lighting
Propane Equipment
Two Burner Stove
Flash Water Heater
Infrared Heaters (2)
Piper modeling the bed in the twin configuration.

Barbecue (with permanent exterior mount)
Retractable Awning (with crank)
Solar Panel (permanent roof mount)
Shelf for Gage’s bed (for passenger seat)
Galley (I’m using boat lingo for practice :)
Refrigerator with mini Freeze Compartment
2 Burner Stove
Stainless Steel Sink
12” Ventilation Fan (multi-speed, remote operated)
Silverware Drawer
Paperstone Counter Tops & Flooring
Over Counter Cupboards (4)
In cupboard LED lighting
Below Cupboard LED Lighting
Below Counter Cupboards (3)
Drawers (2)
Pantry Storage
12v Outlets (3)
Storage Cubbies (3)
Breaker Panel


Swivel Chairs with armrest (2)
12v outlets (3)
Propane Quick-Disconnect
Infrared Heater
Aftermarket Window (with upholstered window cover)
Custom Insulated Window Shades
LED Lighting
Aftermarket Stereo Power Switch
Aftermarket Stereo (manual or remote operated)
Aftermarket Speakers
Carseat Mounts (D-rings and tensioning rod)

Salon with Gage's bed and window covers installed.

Custom Upholstery
Custom Curtains
Bed (convertible Twin or Queen)
4” Solar Powered Ventilation Fan
LED Reading Lights (2)
Over Bed Cupboards (6)
Head Storage Compartment
Hanging Locker (closet)
12v outlets (2)

Stateroom with Twin Bed Configuration & Gage at 6 months.

Me (April) in bed with the queen configuration.

Cargo Locker
12” Ventilation Fan (multi-speed)
House Batteries (2)
Flash Water Heater
Shower Head (low-flow)
Propane Quick-Disconnect
LED Lighting
Florescent Work Light
Soap/Shampoo Dispenser
Large Utility Shelf
Small Utility Shelf
Floor drains (3)

Cargo Locker (empty)

The current plan for the end of our adventure will be to leave the Mia Terra for the winter in a slip in Petersburg and fly to Seattle/Tacoma. We will leave Big O’ with family in Port Townsend, Washington and pick her up for our trip back to New Mexico.

Big O's first time on a beach, Summer 2010 (with Rob driving).

What we look like while driving... (Rob, Gage, and April)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Boat: Information and Specifications

We have owned the boat for seven months and I still have not seen her (don’t worry, Rob has, several times).  When I was six months pregnant we began dreaming about this epic adventure.  We had seen a 1982, 36’ Albin in Petersburg, Alaska.  The owners had been nice enough to give us a tour.  I stole this from the internet but it sums up what we saw aboard the Albin, “A delightful and efficient two cabin trawler.  She has a large salon with a galley up, making her an ideal yacht for entertaining and conversing with the captain.  She has a guest stateroom forward in the V-berth.  There is a guest head located there as well.  The large master stateroom is aft of the salon and down 3 steps, with a private head with a tub & shower.”

The Albin we saw in Petersburg, Alaska.

We loved that boat so we started surfing internet for an Albin for sale.  Much to our disappointment, there were very few for sale and none that we liked on the west coast.  After further research we learned that an Albin is a “Taiwanese Trawler”.  In Taiwan the fiberglass mold and blueprints for the type of boat we wanted, were shared among boat yards through families and friends.  This meant that the same, or very similar, boats were exported from Taiwan with different make and model names.  Once we inputted all the different names for Taiwanese Trawlers for sale on the west coast, into the internet, we found lots of boats that we liked. 

This is the first picture of our boat that I saw.

After a thorough engine inspection (called a survey), haul-out and complete boat survey, we purchased our boat online, through a broker, on September 16, 2011.  Now we owned the boat of our dreams but it was in San Francisco, California.  We really wanted her in Petersburg, Alaska but I was nine months pregnant and Rob didn’t want to leave me to pilot the boat north.  We thought about hiring a skipper to take our boat by water but we discovered that the weather changes in September making the trek north by ocean dangerous and expensive.  We settled for trucking her up to Tacoma, Washington where she has spent the winter.

She looks different because we took down the mast and upper railing so she could fit
under overpasses.  I like that she makes the semi-truck look tiny.

We named her Mia Terra which loosely translates to “my world”.  She is a 38’ Fu Hwa that was built in 1984.  I am slowly learning “boat lingo” but I will give you the non-nautical, basic information first.  She has a single diesel motor that has a top speed of twelve miles per hour but gets the best fuel economy going five to seven.  She has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and fiberglass hull and decks.  You can pilot her from inside the cabin or from the flybridge (top deck above the cabin).  The flybridge can easily accommodate 7 people and has a 360 degree view that is great for navigating thru logs and icebergs or whale watching.  : )

Flybridge aboard the Mia Terra.

We have a lot of planning and organizing to do to transform our boat from the posh weekend cruiser that she is, into a robust well stocked and equipped vessel that we need for our epic adventure.  She is beautiful but she is lacking the day to day necessities like a dinghy, crab pot hauler, crab pot, shrimp pot, survival suits, large ice chest, deep freezer, barbecue (the other one got lost during shipping), fishing poles, spot light...  I have a feeling that a lot of these items will be purchased off of craigslist when we are in Seattle.
Everything I know about the Mia Terra is from Rob or information from the internet.  Here are her specs from the broker’s web site:
Beam: 12 ft 10 in
LWL: 33 ft 6 in
Maximum Draft: 3 ft 6 in
Displacement: 24000 lbs
Engine Brand: Perkins
Engine(s) Total Power: 135 HP
Engine Model: 6-354
Engine Type: Inboard
Drive Type: Direct Drive
Cruising Speed: 8 knots
Maximum Speed: 10 knots
Engine Hours: 2570

Beautiful, clean Engine Room!

Fresh Water Tanks: (200 Gallons)
Fuel Tanks: (200 Gallons)
Holding Tanks: (40 Gallons)
Electrical Equipment
Electrical Circuit: 12V
Outside Equipment/Extras
Electric windlass
Full size Norcold Refrigerator / Freeze
Magic Chef 3 burner propane stove and oven
Microwave Oven
Double Stainless Steel sinks with storage below
8 storage drawers
Glass Stemware hanging storage rack

Galley and Salon.  The polished teak is so beautiful!

L-Shaped settee
New custom upholstery (3/2011)
New custom wooden plantation blinds (3/2011)
Clock and barometer
Storage cabinet and drawers
Sliding windows for ventilation
Fold-out expandable table
New Helm Chair with pop up bolster
West Marine CD player
Teak Parquet sole
Grab Rail down center of salon
Stereo system with speakers throughout vessel including the Flybridge
Flat Screen TV, with digital antennae and reception
Lower Helm
Raymarine SL70C Radar with Chart Plotter
New Raymarine Auto pilot (4/2010)
Hummingbird TX depth finder
Uniden Oceanus VHF radio
Saturn 5" Compass
Dickerson Stern Thruster controls
Instrument panel with RPM, Oil, Temp, Amp and fuel gauges
Standard Horizon Eclipse VHF radio
Ray Jefferson 314 Hailer with Fog Tones
New Helm Chair with bolster

Lower Helm

West Marine VHF radio
New Raymarine Auto Pilot (4/2010)
Hummingbird Depth finder
Saturn compass
Stern Thruster controls
Bimini Top
Radar mast
Igloo cooler
Instrument panel with RPM, Oil, Temp, Amp and fuel gauges
Standard Horizon Eclipse Hailer
New Helm Chair (5/2011)
Bench seating on port and starboard

Flybridge Helm.

Number of single berths: 1
Number of double berths: 2
Number of cabins: 2
Number of heads: 2
Master Stateroom
Queen Island berth
New custom upholstery (3/2011)
New custom wooden plantation blinds (3/2011)
2 hanging lockers
Countertops with lower storage (both Port and Starboard sides)
Built-in Vanity on Port side
Teak Parquet sole
Sliding windows for ventilation
Hatch over berth

Master Stateroom

Master Head
Shower stall with Tub
Manual Jabsco head
Sink with pull-out upgraded faucet
Towel hooks
Port light
Storage under sink

Master Head with tub.

Guest Stateroom
V-Berth with storage under
New custom upholstery (3/2011)
New Bowmar hatch (5/2010)
Hanging locker
Storage shelves
Hatch overhead
Teak parquet sole
Anchor locker
Reading lights
2 port lights

Guest Stateroom

Guest Head
Jabsco manual head
Storage under sink
Port light
Sink with pull-out shower head

Guest Head

Deck & Equipment
Fiberglass decks through out
Bench on rear deck
High quality folding seating on aft deck
Teak cap rails and hand rails
Lewmar Electric windlass 12 volt with Remote at helm (new 4/2010)
45lb CQR Anchor on 200 feet 5/16" chain
Swim platform
Swim Ladder
Throw ring
Magma BBQ
Dickerson Hydraulic Stern Thruster
New Espar D-5 forced air diesel furnace (4/2011)
New Bowmar hatch for Forward guest cabin (5/2010)
New hydraulic steering pumps (5/2011)

Back Deck- when I see this picture, I imagine fishing 
(and a huge Salmon flopping around on this deck)

Engine Room & Electrical
Single Perkins Diesel Engine
50 amp Professional Mariner battery charger
Xantrex Freedom 2000 watt inverter (rebuilt 12/2010)
New Dual Racor 500 Secondary fuel filters (4/2010)
2 Fuel tanks
Diamond decking throughout engine room
4) Golf Cart 12 volt house batteries
2) Golf Cart 12 volt start batteries
New Dripless shaft seals (4/2010)
Rebuilt Velvet Drive transmission (4/2010)
Rewired battery banks and engine start circuit, plus new starter (4/2010)

Looking down from Galley into the Engine Room.

Three year bottom paint applied (4/2010)
Waxed hull and topsides (4/2010)
Machined rudder shafts and repacked (4/2010)
Dripless shaft seals installed (4/2010)
All new rubber hoses and lines throughout vessel (4/2010)
New bilge pumps forward and mid cabin (4/2010)
Steam cleaned bilge (4/2010)
Fuel Tanks polished (4/2010)
Equipment not usually found on similar vessels
New Espar D5 forced air diesel furnace
Large invertor with large battery bank
Dickerson hydraulic stern thruster
Although I have never seen our boat I feel like I know her very well and I sure have learned a lot about being a boat owner.  More about the issue’s of boat ownership another time...