September 24, 2015

A day in the life...

Everyone onboard participates in our daily routines. 

We asked Gus- one of our feline crew members- to share a typical day aboard his new home...

Huh?... Was that 7 bells already? Time to get ready for my watch...

I think I hit snooze 3 times already; I'd better make an appearance...

Man, I've gotta figure out a way to get more than a measly 14 hours of sleep in a day... 
I hope there's some fresh coffee...

What's the weather like this morning, and remind me where are we again?...

Good. At least I won't need my rain gear today...

Yawn... I guess I better go get some chow...

After some breakfast, a cup of Jo, and taking care of other personal matters, I limber up... again...
This is important: You never know when you might have to leap right into action...

Next I suit-up for duty.

...Then I put my game face on...

...and take a quick stroll around the deck to confirm the perimeter is secure...

I always check-in with the relieved watch to see if they have anything to report.

This is a candid shot of me during the ongoing course of my duties- which I take very seriously by-the-way...

A furtive glance through the pilothouse window reveals the next watch is preparing to relieve me. 
Times sure flies when I'm working... 

You're a good relief, Sir, er, Dad...

Now for a little down time with some of the off-watch on this sunny afternoon...

Then some serious Z's before my next duty...

Advice for others? 

If I have learned anything, its how important it is to find a way to take space; to develop a reliable method for achieving some alone time when living in confined quarters. It is also imperative that one find a way to relax, to decompress from the day-to-day stresses of life at sea.

As you can see, I'm still experimenting... [Sorry about the muffled echo...]

Here are some answers to other questions I'm often asked:

  • Where did the Chief Purser get our shark and fish beds?
  • Am I listed on the Crew Manifest?
    • Duh...!
  • Do we have our own feline head
    • Why, yes; one for each of us... and we share [much to Elsie's chagrin, which is why I use hers sometimes...]
  • Do we like to eat fish? 
    • Hey, mate, we ain't vegetarians [But we do like to eat some green grass- or sometimes alfalfa sprouts while traveling- mainly when we need to hork-up a hairball...]
    • Most of the time we are served canned cat food diluted with a little warm water for breakfast. There is always a bowl full of these brown, dry, crunchy things our dad calls cardboard Cheerios... and lots of freshwater in a spill-resistant bowl...
    • Our waitstaff is pretty well trained and is good to us most of the time...
  • Do we miss exploring on land? 
    • A little, but this floating home is always changing locations so the scenery and smells are always new and we have fun exploring them on deck. Sometimes we get to go for walks on a leash. We like that a lot, but are always glad to get back to our Shark beds when we are tired. 
  • Are there any aspects of this life afloat you don't like?
    • I don't like it when the staff wakes-up the noisy, stinky, vibrating monster that lives in the basement... There seem to be two of them, and one must be much larger than the other judging by its growls... My shark bed is my refuge when the monsters first wake-up... After a while, I get used to them and life goes on as normal...
      • Elsie, my watch mate, doesn't seem to mind them so much...
    • I also wish the kitty race track was longer... We can fly through the entire length of our home in seconds. This requires us to do many more laps than we are accustomed to in the wee hours to get our exercise...
    • Otherwise, life is good!
  • What about medical care?
    • As felines, we understand we are exempt from having to have medical insurance under Obamacare... But our servants do take us to mean people once in a while that poke us with their claws or something. 
    • I also understand our parents have some of those paper things they stare at and pet much more than us that tell them about our needs.

September 14, 2015

New Water Heater

We occasionally participate in various boating forums. [See our Some Forums We Read sidebar for links...]

Some of those topics may be relevant here, so once in a while we will repost on our blog for reference.

In this case it relates to one of our spring 2015 commissioning projects, the new 40 liter IsoTemp SPA water heater... [Photo below; Installation Manual]

Original Forum Post: [3-Mar-2015]

Re: Gotta get a new water heater

Originally Posted by Moparots View Post
Hello all new boat owner here, I pulled out the old rusty leaking water heater on my 36Morgan OI. Previous owners had it set up for AC from shore power only. What is every ones opinion on new water heater brands?

The old one was not set up for a engine heat exchanger, how easy is it to install that? Hoses from the water pump? (Westerbeke 44AFour)

Can I get a water heater with the heat exchanger option and not use it? maybe hook it up at a later time.

Looked at the Kuuma, inexpensive. simple 6 gal capacity.

Just looking for every ones thoughts.
I am preparing to do the same thing. After researching I went with an IsoTemp SPA Model [Polypropylene outer jacket vs stainle$$; Mfg# 6P4023SPA0003] for several reasons:
  • Built-in mixing valve [Prevent scalding when engine heats it to 180F.]
  • Super insulated [hot tank purported to last 24+ hours by other owners]
  • SS tank and heat exchanger [no zincs...]
  • 750 watt [1200w available] 115 or 230VAC electric element [half of the usual 1500 watt]
    True, slower to heat from electric, but less load on shore power/generator... And you can set thermostat much higher than usual e.g., 160F to take advantage of that mixing valve and get more usable hot water per charge
  • Mounts Horizontally or vertically

I'll post a blog entry when I complete that project in early May.

Here is a link to Defender's listings FYI.

I hope this is helpful.
SV Denali Rose
Few opinions; only choices based on facts & experience.

Follow-up post: [30-Jul-2015]

Re: Gotta get a new water heater

Originally Posted by Admiral Nelson View Post
I just installed an Isotemp SPA water heater 8 gallons and found that the water does not stay warm for more than 12 hours. Isotemp claim to be 24 hours which has been my experience so far. I was wondering what was everyone's experience with their tank. You have hot water for how long?
Hi Admiral,

We recently completed the installation of the IsoTemp 40 liter Spa water heater I mentioned earlier in this thread. [Mfg# 6P4023SPA0003] My Admiral is very pleased with the results [It replaced a 6 gallon perfectly functional Raritan unit...]

[For those researching new water heaters: We paid US$520 - including USPS shipping to Alaska- for the IsoTemp Spa water heater from Fisheries Supply. This seems to be much more in line with other water heater pricing than I see discussed in this thread...]

You didn't mention the specifics of how hot the water is [or isn't] before and after your 12 hour period of heat retention, nor your usage once the heating source is off. You also didn't mention some of the other environmental factors that will influence your results.

For example, on our boat the engine heats the water to 180° - 190°F and I have the mixing valve [the one that comes installed on the IsoTemp] adjusted to 120°F [the temp of the water you get at the taps.] This mixing of 'superheated' water with cold to achieve the desired temperature at the tap yields 2 to maybe 3 times the tank volume of usable hot water (meaning pleasant showers...)

These are our results, which are likely lower than those of you with warmer 'cold' water per the following:

Note: The ambient water temp of our tanks- which lie against the hull- approach the ambient water temp we boat in- currently mid 40's F or cooler in winter and Mid 50's F in summer... If we're lucky... Mixing warmer cold water will yield even better results... [e.g., 70°F+ cold water would yield 3- possibly 4 times the mixed hot water volume vs. the 2-3 we currently enjoy...]

Regarding heat retention as relates to insulation: Our water and space heaters are installed in the enclosed engine room (which averages 110°F ambient temp while motoring.) When we anchor, we still have hot water 48 hours later if little has been used. If more is used (i.e., if more cold is mixed with the superheated tank of water- say a couple of showers) then of course it doesn't last as long- perhaps 24-36 hours- but we are still gathering data... We find it plenty for 4+ hot showers [2 adults; pausing water flow while bathing; still having to mix in some cold water to get desired temperature...] over a 3 day period, and dishes, etc.

To maximize our hot water retention at anchor, when possible we shower, etc, while motoring so the water heater has enough time to reach maximum temp before shutting down the engine.

One aspect of our install regarding longevity of hot water is our engine room also warms up to 80°F+ when we run the Espar heater, which is also installed there... The engine room rarely cools off below 60°F [even in 20° to 30°F ambient outdoor temperatures] and then only after days at anchor with no or little heat demand [e.g., sunny days in winter- below ~60°N- in our pilothouse reduce the run time for the Espar during those periods...]

This 'warm' engine room environment reduces the burden on the IsoTemp insulation.

If yours is cooling off prematurely without you using any or little hot water, try insulating the hot lines immediately adjacent to the heater, as some conductive heat loss occurs there... You could also further insulate the tank itself if it resides in a cool environment.

You may also want to check the cold water line into the heater after an hour or so of no water being run. If it is warm or hot a small distance from the water heater, you may have a thermal siphon situation and need to install a check-valve or re-route the water line(s).

I also recommend you do some temperature measurements and track hot water usage after the heat source is off so you can estimate the heat loss factors.

An IR thermometer (or IR camera, or low tech version: your bare hand...) will reveal any insulation deficiencies in the IsoTemp insulation layer.

I hope this is helpful.
SV Denali Rose
Few opinions; only choices [good and bad...] based on facts & experience.

This is a work-in-progress photo of the 11 gallon IsoTemp water heater install.
[Horizontal grey cylinder at top of photo. The red pipes are structural support for new water heater; not plumbing.]
The 6 gallon water heater [lower left] it is replacing is still in use in this photo.
The red heater hose on the sole is the rough-in for a new Dickinson Radex 'bus' heater being installed in the pilothouse.
Additional References:

September 8, 2015

Rory, Colleen, and the O'Daughters

As the saying goes: "the boat can accommodate cocktails for 6, feed 4, and sleep 2". This doesn't apply to us at all times. We recently ended up with 8 total onboard, and though it was a tight fit, we had a really great time.

Our dear friends, the O'Family as we call them (self admitted 'Recovering Irish Catholics') honored us by spending their vacation time onboard!...

We went fishing, caught halibut that was too small, and we threw it back in, caught sole that was too small, and we threw it back in, and set crab pots which caught crab that were too small, and had to be thrown back in. Do you see a pattern here?

Fishing is a stylish occasion.
The next destination was the Anan Wildlife Observatory. Because of some Alaska Marine Highway Ferry delays, the O'Family had missed their original reservations, so we decided to just go there, and see if they could get in anyway. As it turned out, their family of six could go, and Bill and I stayed on Denali Rose. The bay is notoriously bad for anchoring, and the weather was blowing, so Bill was going to stay on the boat regardless, to prevent any problems. The group ashore lucked out, and got to see a couple of black bears, and a brown (grizzly), mama bear with 4 cubs. This is a rare occurrence for a brown bear.

There she is behind the log with her youngsters.

The next stop is LeConte glacier, by way of Petersburg. Apparently the pizza parlor in Petersburg has a reputation for great pizza, so we had a discussion as to what kind. We called when we got within cell phone range, and ordered 2 larges to go. Just a "touch and go" at the harbor, as we tie up the boat and walk a couple of blocks to pick up the pizza. Since we hadn't caught any fish we could eat, we also stopped at the local fish processor retail outlet, and bought a halibut. The guys gave Colleen and I a hard time about that, but it was delicious, and they agreed. The pizza was worth the stop also.

We finally caught the appropriate sized halibut.
The day at the glacier was fabulous, the sun came out, the icebergs cooperated, and the seals were plentiful.
Quite spectacular!

Curious seals

Our O'Friends

Beautiful day in LeConte Bay at the glacier.
And no glacier visit is complete without netting out a piece of glacier ice!

Oooooo, it's cold. 
Daily life aboard Denali Rose...

The O'Daughters were enthralled with the scenery... [actually, this was one of those brief moments when a cell signal was available...]
Colleen enjoying her evening.

The lower dinette area folds down into a bed, the O'daughters snuggled in, playing cards.

Rory is a champion griller.

Where are we going?

It's an O pile, checking out who still had data available on their phone.
They even went swimming (?) a couple of times. I say BRRRRR, but whatever floats your's a tepid 54F in the water. 

"Come on in"
Everyone had a chance to pilot.

Colleen at the wheel.

By the time we returned to Wrangell, our O'Friends were seasoned cruisers, well trained Swabs, Galley Slaves, and Ship's Mates. "Aye Aye Captain, anchors away!"