Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back Together ...

Just like Humpty Dumpty, we're slowly putting Nirvana back together again.  Wait, I think Humpty Dumpty couldn't be put back together again ... even with all the King's Men!  We're hoping Nirvana isn't as difficult as Humpty ... especially when we get to those clutches, blocks and all those little pieces. How good is our memory?  Hope we took good pictures before we took all the hardware off!

As shown in the picture above, Nirvana now has her bow sprit back on.  This was not an easy task, but not as difficult as the stern pushpit!  The pushpit sat in our little living room for a couple of weeks until we had time to re-bed it with 4200.  

Re-bedding the stern pushpit was a difficult job!  Imagine trying to get bolts on the bottom of the pushpit, which is at the top of a skinny little "wall" that makes up the stern.  There's nothing like working on a boat!

The stanchions weren't as difficult as the pushpit, but with the high temps we broke this project into two mornings.

Before re-bedding, I cleaned the stainless pieces with Never Dull.  We've used this product for many years on our motorcycles so why not Nirvana?

Our stainless isn't new, but have you checked into the prices of these parts?!  We're happy to use what we've got, especially since we had to buy a few stainless latches .. over $20 bucks for one latch! We'll also use the lifelines that we already had,which are in good shape.  We're in no hurry to put these back on until we're finished with the other deck installations and projects.

We have other projects also in the works, including trying to come up with a solution for our companionway hatch cover that doesn't slide so well.  Luckily, Ken has a contractor's mind and came up with a fix that we hope solves the problem.  We're not quite done with this project yet, so more details coming soon.

As time allows, we'll finish the hatch and re-bed the winches, handrails, blocks, etc. on Nirvana's deck.  We're also planning on tackling the plumbing soon ... the hose to our water tank is disgusting!

Ken and I are getting excited about finally putting Nirvana back together again, and we can't wait to take her motoring on the lake.  Ken's been running the engine while in our slip, and he's been replacing a few hoses and doing minor engine maintenance as well. With hurricane season in full force we'll probably wait until November to put the sails & canvas back on Nirvana, as well as new halyards.  Any suggestions on where to get the halyards online for a good price?

We've been searching the internet for parts & spares, and researching our cruising needs on Nirvana. We're looking into ideas for solar panels (we're thinking 300 watts with a Honda generator), storage on the boat, and for a primary anchor set-up with a windlass. With a small anchor locker & a 30 ft. boat weighing only 10,000 lbs, weight on the bow (and everywhere for that matter) is a concern.  Some folks suggest 50 ft of chain, and others say at least 100 ft. of chain ... with 200 ft. of line.  How do we fit 100 ft. of chain in our anchor locker?!  Do we really need that much to sail to the Bahamas?  Yeah, we may need more going further South but we could deal with it then, right?  Maybe we'll start with a compromise ... and 80 ft. of chain.

As we start getting closer to becoming liveaboards, we get closer to shutting down our businesses.  Ken's starting to go through his tools & storage shed ... and it's gettin' real!  It's hard enough to walk away from an office (my real estate), but try adding getting rid of years of tools and parts from your construction business!  Ken's been mentally preparing for this a long time, and I gotta say he's doing pretty well with the whole thing.  It's scary for us to make such a drastic change in life, but the adventures we've been dreaming of can't be ignored.  Staying put seems pretty boring now that the seed has been planted ... it's time to let it grow!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Perspective ...

As I watch the news and the Louisiana flooding just 30 miles away in the Denham Springs/Baton Rouge areas, the hardships that we've experienced with flooding are still fresh and my heart goes out to those affected.  If you haven't experienced such devastation, you just can't imagine what it's like.

Our first experience with flooding was the May '95 flood, when our very first house that we owned took on about a foot of water after over 19 inches of rain in less than 48 hours.  We were in an area that wasn't supposed to flood and since this was "before Katrina", flood zones weren't a thought back then.  We didn't have flood insurance, nor did any of our neighbors.  I remember sitting in the back of our pick-up truck out front (no where else dry to sit) and chatting with the neighbors while waiting for "The Red Cross" truck to deliver dinner ... better than the ice cream truck! The "Salvation Army" truck also made its stops, providing cleaning supplies, snacks and water.  These two organizations were so generous, and The Red Cross even gave us a new mattress!  I have to say, FEMA was also a blessing and they were the reason we were able to keep our sanity.  FEMA provided us and our neighbors with the funds to restore our home and put our lives back together.  We learned a lot from that flood ... that we could recover and that there are still tons of good people in the world.

One year later we sold that house and built our raised dream home on the bayou ... and we bought flood insurance!  All was good until August 29, 2005.  Long story short ... our house was fine but everything below was destroyed and covered in a thick, stinky mud.  Flood insurance won't cover anything below the living quarters, so we lost quite a bit in lawnmowers, tools, etc.  However, we were grateful that we still had a place to go home to.  We didn't move home right away, as we stayed in an RV at a friend's place for about a week while making trips to the house to clean & remove the mud and trash. That same week also included several trips about 30 miles away (close to the now flooded areas) just to get gas for the generator and a burger.  We found a truck giving out MRE's and water, and we lived off of that for a while.  Once again, the "Red Cross" & "Salvation Army" brought hope to folks and set up stations for the community.  There was no such thing as going to a local grocery story ... it seemed that just about everyone was affected by the storm.  

Below are pics of our dream home on the bayou that we built .. it was the first house Ken had ever built, and the start of his building career.

Once back in the house, we lived without electricity for about a month.  The heat was brutal!  No electricity also meant no water since we had a well.  It wasn't unusual to go a few days in the heat of August without a shower .. good practice for the boat, right?!  But again, we were grateful to have a clean place to stay .. while we fixed our flooded rentals!

We had three rentals that flooded ... two up to the ceiling and one with just enough water to have to gut it 4 feet up.  The clean-up was tough ... again, with thick & stinky mud everywhere and refrigerators full of spoiled food leaving a stench that would almost knock you out!  The two tenants that lived in the houses that flooded to the ceiling left us to remove their ruined items. They seemed to conveniently be "evacuated" until everything was on the street and ready for them to sort through.  The good news was that we had flood insurance this time around.  We needed it since we not only had huge repairs, but also lost rental income on all three of our rentals!

We also had my 80-something year old grandparents, my 70-something year old grandmother, and my mom's house needing help with clean-up and repairs. They all lost everything.  Needless to say, Ken had a lot on his shoulders, as the family looked to him to repair everything.  After all, he was the contractor in the family.  While other contractors got rich from Katrina, we spent our time fixing our rentals and our family's homes.  We were glad to help, but boy was it rough!  

Katrina really put into perspective what's important, but it also wore us out emotionally & physically.  It took us over two years to get back to a normal life, and then we were crazy enough to buy a gutted house on the water in an area we wanted to live in ... and then our little rental that got a few inches in Katrina flooded again!  We endured more repairs for another year.  We rented out our dream home on the bayou and eventually sold it & the house we bought in it's place in 2014.  We thought we were done with flooding until ... that damn lil rental flooded again in 2014 ... and again in 2015!  After just restoring the rental from the 2014 flood, the waters came again.  I tell ya, we wanted to pull our hair out.  Thank goodness for flood insurance, but it sure sucked.  We don't have much of a choice but to keep on renting the place instead of selling ... nobody wants to pay anything for a 1-bedroom house that's flooded several times.

The cursed rental in 2015 ... it's cute, but what a pain!

When storms once again threatened to flood our little rental this past week, we tried not to think about it.  We kept our fingers crossed that we wouldn't get too much rain, and luckily we didn't! We dodged a bullet, and we are so grateful!  We may have to face flooding again (thanks to that 1 rental), but at least it wasn't this time.  Hopefully it won't be for a while.

Anyway, this all started with seeing those poor folks just down the road who are now going through some really tough times.  They will endure some of the same things we did ... the brutal heat, the lack of a/c & ice, the lack of gas and the lack of security that a home brings.  My son-in-law headed towards the devastation with his Air Force Reserve unit to provide assistance at one of the Baton Rouge shelters.  He may be home Friday ... maybe.

Ken & I have become frustrated the past few months with the slow progress on Nirvana.  We'd hoped to be moving aboard by Ken's 50th birthday, which is this Friday but we've got a few more months of boat work before that happens. Work gets in the way, we get tired, and it rains.  Seeing those folks nearby sleeping in shelters and leaving their lifetime possessions really puts things in perspective.  We are once again reminded of how fortunate we are to be sleeping in a warm bed, running our a/c, and living in a dry house.

Those folks will recover thanks to so many generous folks & organizations.  I've never lived anywhere else, but I hear that us Southerners are some of the kindest people in the country ... I have no doubt. I'm hoping we can "pay it back" and get to the Baton Rouge area soon to help out the "Red Cross" or some other organization.   They were such a big help to us, and we'll be forever grateful.

Remember, when things get tough it may not be all that bad compared to others.  It's all about perspective. Nirvana waits, but we're blessed!  

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!
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