November 22, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

It is a real serious pain in the ass to have to shift too much crap from one spot to another just to sit down or make dinner or go to
bed. Okay, now I'm over it. There just isn't any option but to do it. The closer I get to pulling out, the more stuff I can get rid of,
but for right now, I have to be careful what I 'move along'.

The work forward is proceeding well and I should finish it up today, then start blasting some Kilz around the boat. I can do that if
it doesn't rain, but if it does, I probably won't paint inside. The head, the holding tank and under the sink all need structural
woodwork installed so I can finish those areas and store some stuff as well. I also think I need to get the 2 sheets of 3/4 inch
plywood in the truck cut to shape and installed as the reefer and cooking counter. Those are two more areas that will absorb a lot
of the stuff that is 'hanging around' the cabin - like my food and condiment stores.

The thick insulation forward is done and now I'm working in the thin. These areas were the worst of the insulating and I'm glad
to be putting them behind me.

All the thin insulation is done and half the forward taping. I only have the taping over the sink counter and the computer desk to
finish, then vacuum up the boat and get the insulated areas covered with the vinyl/naugahyde stuff.
November 23, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

A cold front is rumored to be coming through just in time for our outside Thanksgiving Day feast. I have warm clothes, so I'm
convinced I'll eat well. Below is a picture of the under-deck insulation in the head. It's just good enough to remind me that I still
have to get the fiberglass epoxied over the bulkhead to hull fillet. Amazing. That's only been waiting to get done since 1988.
Anyone would think that if the boat has survived this long without, why do it now? Because it needs doing for my own peace of
mind. Besides, the boat has never been at full weight with a full set of sails in rough weather yet, and those are the conditions
where these details pay off.
At this forward part of the hull, the deck is arching
upwards pretty good, but the big main beam
athwartships is plumb, making for some interesting
junctions at the shear and some minor difficulties in
fitting the insulation, but a good, solid, vertical plane
upon which to fasten the forward head bulkhead.

At the top left corner of the picture you can see the
small, tapered planks that I used to shape the forward
section of the cabins deckhouse. The sides of the
deckhouse were first laminated with one-piece
horizontal strips, then the inside was done with
vertical strips - all epoxied and screwed - to make for
an enormously strong panel. As I reached the forward
end of the deckhouse, I realized that two courses of
vertical laminations would not provide the strength I
was hoping for in an area that may have to shunt
continual waves over the bow. I paused there, hoping
to come up with a brilliant and revolutionary cure.
It has not arrived. Time to finish this somehow. I've decided to laminate in some thin plywood panels and be done with it. I no
longer believe I can conceive a cure for every ill, but I can fill an empty hole and step over it.

The giant pile of insulation in the cabin is much smaller. After another day of feverish thrashing in the cabin where I move
things to and fro (devil talk) and get things done, I'll be cutting 3/4 inch plywood and assembling structures inside the boat. Once
they are done, a very messy day or so of fiberglass and epoxy work should provide a huge selection of storage areas available for
use. Oh, yeah. I should also get the holding tank done and the hot water heater hung. And the head installed.

Work is going good and I've only had to stop and dig one splinter out of my finger so far. One of my jobs this morning has been
to scrub stuff clean as I go, so you can expect to see a picture of the clean sink counter soon. I'm very tempted to do some Kilz
work today, but we'll see. I still need to evacuate the computer desk and get some taping done here. Naturally, the computer will
be off and out of commission, so I'll upload this post now, not knowing when I'll be able to do anything again.
I actually made that counter out of
two pieces of scrap 3/4 inch plywood
and an odd Oak 1 x 4 plank. I sealed it
with epoxy, filled any dings or seams
and painted it with white Awlgrip. It
works excellent and my only future
plans include a few more coats of
Awlgrip and shelves and cabinet
doors below. One of the odd
phenomenons on Falcon is that the
Oak plank at the forward end that
appears to be seriously
cattywhompus is actually vertical,
straight and square. It is the boat
itself in that area that does not have
another plumb or level line in it.
Well, the counter is level and flat. I'll
be back when the computer is back
together.

I finished taping all the underdeck
insulation and prepping the desk for
fiberglass tabbing, but will have to
wait a bit for that. I can't believe how
much dust is on everything. It's
amazing the stuff still works.
November 24, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I'm back. It's a day later at almost exactly 4 PM and I just popped the computer back together so I could do an update and feed
my need for monitor face-time. I really want to hook up some speakers and listen to music, but I think I'll refrain and let that go
for a few days. I have to take the computer back apart and fiberglass in this desk.
Tom bought the truck today and I went over it with him and emptied the wood out of it. That took a little time out of the day. I
had to dig out some waterproof little tarps and tie them over the new wood outside to try to protect them from the approaching
rain. It wouldn't be a disaster if the wood got wet, but I'd prefer that it didn't.

I just took the two shots above as I put the computer together and fired it up. It's in a sort of 'bareboat charter' mode. It's so
weird to have it on such a clean tabletop. When I finish this interior, I will SO make sure the whole boat stays neat and clean.
There is no measure as to how sick I am of living in a bombed out sewer. I will have proper closets and cabinets to hide my
grubbiness like normal people.
November 25, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

This is my first morning in at least 20 years where I have not had a car or truck of some sort waiting outside. I suppose I could
say something like how 'freeing' it is or exciting to be closing in on a departure date, but it's not. It's not a spiritual event. I just
don't have a car.

The money from the truck should be earmarked for the solar system, but I have to be practical and make sure I get the haul, the
bottom paint, and the depth transducer done first. If I'm frugal enough in that area and am able to head south on the first of the
New Year, I should also have enough money right then to order the stuff and have it delivered to Naples or Marco Island and
pick it up there on the way to Marathon.
November 26, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida - Thanksgiving

The dock parties aren't so bad. I just get up and leave whenever I want and no one has the interest to bother being offended. It's
an open society of wandering refugees on the fringes of civilization, the shattered remnants of broken dreams and shipwrecked
lives washed up on an empty beach with no vested interest in anything beyond the meal and the boat. It is freedom personified.
What the land people dream of while watching romantic movies but are unwilling or unable to pay the price for.

It's after noon now - about 15 minutes after - and the food is beginning to smell good out on the dock. I've been out there quite a
bit, moving tables, this and that, you know. Took a ride to Winn-Dixie with Eddie and saw Ham and checked with him about
using the boardwalk around the closed Seafood Shack for our little dinner today, which he immediately agreed to.
November 27, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Eddie came and got me yesterday and I went out and ate at the dinner. It was cold and windy and after a while I came back to the
boat. The food was great and there was plenty of it. Yay. Now, it's very cold and windy and I'm doing some computer stuff until I
feel like heading outside and starting to mark and cut up those sheets of plywood.

I really need to get more done on my transition to St Brendan's Isle. There are forms to fill out and address change at the Post
Office and other things. I got a little distracted with selling the truck and Thanksgiving. It is good to be down to what's on the
boat and in the dock boxes, though.

The deck insulation actually does make a big difference this morning. It is warm inside the boat with no heat of any kind turned
on. I have two small fluorescent bulbs on, the computer, and the TV, and it's fine in here. Of course, each item contributes a little
heat, but it has plummeted to 80 outside - okay, no - 50 degrees.
November 29, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I got the two sheets of plywood cut into the right pieces yesterday and returned the sawhorses to Donny. It clears the dock a bit. I
have a big day ahead of me today to clear the aft cabin area, secure the bilge rug into the two storage areas beneath that section
of the cabin sole, then doing the final installation of the cabin sole there. Once that is done, I can construct and install the two
structures there for the ice box and the cook top counter. As soon as that is done, I'm going to head forward with the cabin sole
so I can make better use of the storage space beneath the bunk and the center of the main cabin sole. The next item on the list is
the cabinet in the head which will help to finish the head and provide more storage space. The big thing about that cabinet is that
it is the space where the water maker will be mounted and the water maker is the last big item that needs to be brought aboard. I
will also be able to mount the platform for the head itself and recondition that item and get it installed.

That is definitely more work than I can do in a day, but it gives me direction and that's all I need. I should also carefully measure
and cut the 1 x 4's for the outlet strips and get them into place so the don't get rained on. It was expensive wood and getting the
strips made will also get the new boxes and outlets off the floor. Things are moving.
November 30, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
The moving piles around the cabin are insane. I now have to
squeeze through that little crack to get from the aft cabin area to
the main saloon. My bunk is packed up to the deck with tools and
materials. Of course, I had to move it all to sleep last night and
will have to move it all again before the day is out.

It is 2:40 PM and I have walked to the Post Office twice - forgot
my second key the first time - and finished the P.O. Box. I also
called St. Brendan's Isle and got a little more insight into the
special forms I have to fill out, get notarized and mail back to
them.
I will also have to change a few addresses out there, like the bank, my drivers license, voter registration, and some others, I'm
sure.

I got the aft area floor done and now just have to let the glue dry before mixing up thickened epoxy and fairing and fiberglassing
it in. Here are a couple of pictures, though it is hard to get them in such a small area.
The section of plank at the bottom of the companionway ladder is actually a part of the ladder now. The tongue on the forward
edge of the plank engages the groove on the aft end of the floor plank and secures the bottom of the ladder perfectly. I expect it to
break some day. We'll see. I still need to cut in two small hatches, one on either side of the central battery hatch, to gain access to
the two now-padded storage areas for engine spares and other things.
December 1, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

December and one month to go. Somehow, with the mountain of work ahead of me, I'm more than a little concerned about how
much I'll get done by the end of the month. It doesn't matter. I can only do what I can do. I got the plate back from Tom last
night and did a little job for George yesterday afternoon. He bought me supper and gave me money I didn't ask for, then sprang
the reason - naturally, as if I didn't know it was coming - that he wanted me to climb in under his cockpit and try to fix some
slack 'situation' in his steering. It's not going to happen. It's way too vague. (My car makes a funny noise that only I can hear. I
want you to work on it until it goes away. I'll tell you when I'm satisfied.) Not a chance.

First matter on the roster today is to mix up thickened epoxy and fair in all the areas around the new sole in the aft cabin. I
should also be ready with the fiberglass to tab it in. As soon as that is cured, I need to cut in the two little hatches and finish
them up so I can walk away from that section of sole - Though I may quickly paint and non-skid it.

Next item in that area is to build and install the structures. That should actually go pretty quickly. As soon as that is done, I may
take the opportunity to fill them with crap and move forward to the head, forward cabin sides and overhead, and the holding tank.

I may have to accept a situation that my only way to Marathon on the first of the new year will be to motor all the way. The
extensive amount of work inside the boat may not leave time for the sails. That's not chiseled in stone, but it may be true.

It's 11:40 AM and the crock pot is beginning to smell great. I got the aft sole faired in and tabbed with fiberglass and am now just
waiting for it to cure. Once it hardens up and I can be sure I won't make trouble by cutting in there, I'll cut out the two hatches
and put support cleats inside, then stow the gear down there that belongs there.
Above are three shots of the sequence of finishing the edges of the sole. The first is the raw edges, the second is the thickened
epoxy fairing compound - which clearly illustrates why I don't feet the need to get overly involved in cutting the floor planks to
'perfect' size, and the last is with the 6 inch 1708 biaxial fabmat cloth epoxied over it. Today, as in most times when doing this, I
apply the tape over wet fairing to get a good, solid bond.

It's after 1 PM and the epoxy is still juicy wet. It will probably not cure until late in the day or after an overnight wait. I will
probably nap off the huge dinner I just ate, then start installing the cleats to accept the structures in there. While I was cutting
the plywood panels up, all willy-nilly and out of control, I forgot to cut the biggest first, so now I don't have a piece big enough.
December 2, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I got the floor hatches done and the ice box started.
November 22, 2009 - January 22, 2010
December 3, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I have to just keep on going on the ice box and cooking counter. The two under sole compartments that the small hatches
exposed are already holding what they will hold. They work great. I just have to install a couple of pulls or something to open
them with. Something that lays absolutely flat so it doesn't bulge if I put thin carpet down. I like carpet on the sole with bare feet
in the winter. Cold floors are not my friend.
I tried everything as far as shapes and volumes for the
reefer and finally just settled on a box. After all, it IS an ice
BOX. I was afraid it might look 'boxy' so I made it a perfect
cube so I wouldn't be disappointed if it came out looking
boxy. I'm going to paint it bright white with red trim
around all the edges and a big "A" on the top, a "B" on the
front, and a "C" on the back. That should remove the
'blocky' stigma, if there is one. The next move is to install
the rest of the foam insulation, then fiberglass everything
and put the top on.

To the left is one of the small, lined hatches with the extra
blocks and rigging stuff already in it. Tomorrow I will also
get started on the cooking counter just opposite this. Pretty
soon I'll be able to start assembling the electrical panel and
start wiring everything up. Yeah, yeah, I know. Things
seem to go slow. Don't remind me. I've been at this since
1985 and I'm almost there. But don't expect fireworks.
December 5, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
December 7, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

It is December 7th at 7:07 AM. Pearl Harbor Day. It is after sunrise now and the sky is dark with heavy cloud cover. I need to get
the fiberglass tabbing on the ice box done and get the insulation installed and the lid secured. Then, the cooking counter will be
calling. I've done laundry and preparation for the fiberglassing, got the forms filled out and notarized for St. Brendan's Isle, and
made an appointment for the primary care doc at the VA. January 7th.
I worked more on the Falcon floor plan - almost starting from scratch - and got this much done. I suppose I could go deeper and
include the engine, fuel tanks, batteries, water tanks, and all the various holds and storage lockers, but I'm not ready to do that
yet.

The reason the interior structures on Falcon get farther from the edge as they go forward is because the hull slopes out more and
more toward the bow. Even so, the drawing is only an illustration and not intended to be precise, though the fore and aft
dimensions are right on and the beam and other dimensions are very close. It gives you an idea of the interior of the boat. There
will certainly be plenty of interior pictures when it becomes presentable.
December 8, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

So yesterday, there I was, doing my thing-thing, you know, running to and fro and getting things done while I searched
constantly for lost forms on board (which I finally found), transferred tons of files from hard drive to hard drive in preparation
for fixing the computer (I may wait until after the New Year to order those parts - they could be much cheaper then), and chased
down solar components from around the globe.

I've decided on two 210 watt panels from Sun Electronics, at 65 inches by 37 inches. They are only $365 each and if the deal is as
good on them as it was on the Outback, I will have my Solar system for just over $1200, plus panel shipping, instead of the $1900
plus I was looking at two days ago. It will provide 175 amp-hours per day instead of 225, but I can surely live with that.

The freight on the two solar panels, from Miami to Cortez is $207. On the other hand, however, I was only charged $478 for the
Outback 60, which is sweet. Before I make a decision on the panels, I'm going to have to talk to someone over there on the
phone. Donny said I could use his car to go pick them up. The company is as far into Miami as you can go before you get your
feet wet - 230 miles each way - about $45 in gas and 8 hours on the road, counting lunch. It seems worth the drive.

I got the ice box fiberglassed into the boat and as soon as it cures I'll start installing the foam. Then I can stow some stuff in it
and secure the lid and on to the cook counter, or aft galley.
December 9, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I've been insulating the icebox. It's a little weird, but not bad. I started by making a bottom plate for inside the electrical panel
and getting it installed. That took about a dozen trips in and out of the boat to cut here and trim there.
December 10, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

The Outback 60 came in today, or yesterday, but without whatever else was supposed to be in the box. I found the manual
available for download online and grabbed a copy of it, but if the unit is supposed to come with a manual, I want it. We'll see if
another unit gets delivered that HAS a manual. If it does - well, we'll see.
December 11, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I tried without success to reach any of the three Sun Electronics locations in Miami, Phoenix and Tucson. I wanted to know what
the differences are between the earlier Outback 60 Flex Max and the new MX 60 version, and if I should have gotten the newer
item. I also wanted to know if there should have been a manual included, or anything else that should have been in the box. Not
that I really need any of the stuff or would 'hold them up' for it, but I would like a hard copy version on the manual. I already
found an Adobe version online and downloaded it. It appears that the unit I have will work just as well for me as the newer one.
The latest improvements are geared toward much larger arrays, higher voltages, etc. Things that don't play on a small boat
system. So, even though the unit I received is scratched up a little and might be short a manual, in the long run it will do what I
need for the best price I could hope to find. Sun Electronics has already returned the money from the extra order so all things
money are good.
December 12, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

It's a nice cool morning and the first thing I have to do when I get out of the boat is to clean up the messy pile of plywood that
the wind starting blowing over last night. I went out and laid down what hadn't blown down, just to be sure none of it could be
blown into the water. I'll head out any minute to straighten it out.
There is 4 inches of insulation on all sides and 2 inches on the bottom, which is the easiest part by far. Two more inches there
and I'll trim up and fill in around the top, then fiberglass the whole interior. I suppose it would be a good time to get the final
shape of the holding tank finished so I can fiberglass the interior of that at the same time. I might have to just fill this with stuff
for a while so I can build the other interior structures, then do all the fiberglassing at once.
December 13, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

It would be SO SWEET, and I can't begin to tell you HOW sweet, if I could find a small storage situation here somewhere that
would allow me to completely empty the boat - of everything - and tear into it with grinders, sanders, vacuum, fiberglass, paint
and - you get it. I mean, get this over with. This is mindnumbingly crippling to try to work in an area so completely packed.

There's only one way out of this and that's to keep pushing forward. Because the foam is mostly installed, the head is almost
empty again, making it possible for me to install the big shelves in there and get even more stuff out of the way or stowed.
December 14, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I finished the inside insulation on the icebox yesterday - as much as I'm doing here, that is - and emptied the six full milk crates
into it, carefully stacking everything and packing the thing full.

After getting back, I stowed a lot of stuff and started getting some room back inside the cabin. I also started prepping for
installing both the head shelves and the cooking counter, as well as finishing the holding tank. I'm beginning to think the only
possible way to 'clean out the boat' is to finish the storage and get rid of almost everything that doesn't fit into it, including
clothes and tools. That way, I can wrap and cover things like the range, the computer, monitors and printer, the TV, the engine
and electrical panel, then blast away with the grinders and sanders. I have to do this prior to installing the fabric on the cabin
sides as it will not handle the dust and subsequent cleaning well. In short, it will end up looking beat up and old almost at once.

Started right off by making cleats to mount the shelves, then cutting down all the 1 x 4's for the outlets and putting most of them
in position where they will eventually end. It's also getting hot, so I put up the dock sunshade. My next task will be to get these
cleats installed and start installing the shelves that are already cut, then cutting and installing more until I'm satisfied that this
part of assembly in the interior is done.

The cooking cabinet is coming along. Each board is a puzzle piece that needs to be massaged carefully into shape and position,
and I'm designing as I go. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to build until just a few minutes ago. I mean, I knew I was
going to build a box there that was about 30 inches by 30 inches, but that was it. I decided on the height once I got started and
now I know I will build a 4 inch deep rotating 'drawer' that swings out instead of dragging out, an 8 inch shelf below that, and a
flop-down door to expose the shelf and the bottom bin, where the pots and pans will store.
It has recently occurred to me that the 'dial-up speed'
AT&T Cellular Internet that Geoff has been enjoying
not so much in Flamingo, is probably exactly what I
will be looking at when I get to Marathon. That may
just influence how long I stay there. I'm going to be
trying to get finishing done on the interior, but once
I'm off the dock here, I may not have to stay
anywhere I'm not happy. We'll see what the future
holds. Once everything aboard Falcon provides a
facsimile of operation, I am a Free Bird and will fly
wherever the wind blows.

Well, you know, maybe. I still don't need to fly north
in the dead of winter or off to the Bahamas during
Hurricane season, or to Haiti for any reason at any
time. But I will go to Cuba if the restrictions are
lifted. And I'll definitely cruise the coast of New
England in summer, and the Chesapeake and south
in the winter. And I may try out the Bahamas
sometime.
December 15, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

The sun is bright and warm this morning and it looks like a great day. On a side note: I am about at the last drop of my patience
as far as lifting and carrying the 1 x 6 tongue and groove flooring around. I now have to place it on the dock to get into the dock
boxes and back up on the dock boxes to clear the dock each night. This work no longer provides me with a trim, teenage body.
It
just wears me out, you know, mentally. And a little bit physically. I may fill all four water tanks today so I can check for leaks and
be done with it. Then I can go ahead and finish installing the floor. It will also give me a pretty good idea where the boat will sit -
waterline-wise - with a full load. That's a little scary, but not much. I still have plenty of stuff I can ditch, and later on, if push
comes to shove, there may be very little need for me to carry a full 100 gallons of fuel and 150 gallons of water. It's nice to be able
to if I should need it, but there will be very little need for it, really. Ordinarily, 20 to 30 gallons of fuel and 40 gallons of water will
be plenty.

Meanwhile, having a floor in the boat will be awesome. All the storage space beneath the bunk will be available and I will no
longer have to balance on a beam with one foot to put on my pants in the morning. I also received my new computer components
yesterday, but I've got too much to do right now to get involved with building a new computer. I'm sure the weather will turn to
crap at any moment and I'll I some special 'alone' time inside the boat to do that.
And once again, my bunk is covered with clothes and boat stuff all the
way to the deck, the aft galley and reefer are also packed high, but the
bottom of the boat is clear and clean and I will soon start filling the
tanks with water. If that goes well, I'll start blasting in the cabin sole like
Wile E. Coyote builds traps for that freakin' bird.

Well, if you've watched enough Roadrunner episodes, you know what
happens to the coyote. Sure enough, one of the tanks started leaking. At
first, I thought it had to be a loose fitting or something, but the more I
struggled to find out where it was leaking from, the worse the leak got.
Finally, I worked to remove the tank from the boat - it was one of the 53
gallon units that will be beneath the sealed cabin sole, the one beneath
where I sit to work on the computer - and when I finally got it loose, the
water poured into the bilge. The stacked bilge pumps were pumping so
fast they had to keep stopping and waiting for water to get to them.
Wicked fast, the way a big bilge pump should be. Anyway, I dragged the tank outside and found two dime-size holes melted
straight through the middle of the bladder. What a pain. I don't know how I managed to do that, but I can promise you the tank
was not like that when I bought it.
Even the heavy nylon bag it lives in was 'melted' some, though not right
through. The thing is, the super heavy extra bags I made and covered
the tanks with were NOT damaged in the least, so it happened before I
did that.

So I go online and find out that these tanks are now selling for between
$170 to $230. Ouch. Some more research shows them to be available as
the 'bladder only', as a spare part, for $120. I ordered the bladder and
was satisfied to get out of it for only $135 - including shipping. Needing
a brief break, I went to find Donny and talk.

Donny says - after I tell him I just dropped $135 on a bladder - why
don't I just use the extra one he has? Okay, so then there were
questions and arm measurements and capacity estimates, and it turns
out he has a brand spanking new 'e
xactly that tank' in his storage that
he has no use for.
We go over to the storage and retrieve it and he gives it to me. As soon as I got back, I called the place where I ordered the
bladder and cancelled the order. Close one.
December 16, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I already have everything back up on the bunk and the bilge is ready to receive the new tank. First, I'll have to put it in the old
outer bag - because I've already attached web securing points to it - then wrestle it into the super duty nylon bilge bags I made for
all the water tanks. T
hen I'll be ready for the fancy dance required to get it back into position. Then, of course, fill it and check for
leaks. Can you imagine how pissed I might have been if I'd just closed up this sole and found out about the two huge holes in the
tank later? I can't imagine. But, I have some ideas about what I would have had to go through to fix it.
Above are the starboard tank on the right, filled almost as far as possible - the sole will limit it - and the poor, sad little space on
the right where the holey tank used to live. OMG! I just realized what killed it! I had two very small cans of PVC pipe primer and
cement sitting right there! And the damn primer leaked! I didn't think anything of it at the time - except that I had to go get more
primer, but now I'll bet that caused the PVC bladder to melt. Evil can! Or not. Might have been something else. I'm going to
tie-wrap a soft cushion of some sort to the black fill nozzle on the top center of each of these tanks. It occurs to me that if the
bags are a little more than half full and I'm at an active anchorage, they might 'tap - tap - tap' the night away and aggravate the
hell out of me. A thin layer of foam will go miles to relieving the situation.

The new tank Donny gave me had an unwelded seam that left a hole almost big enough for me to put my head in. Perfect.
Naturally, this foot-long defect eluded my nonexistent scrutiny as I wrestled the bladder into one bag, then another, then secured
it completely into the bilge and began the triumphant final filling process. Because this is so often the true texture of my life, I
hardly winced when I saw the leaking water running through the bilge and into the pump well. I didn't curse or chuck down any
tools. I just shrugged and said, "Hmph. That figures." I pulled it back out, emptied it, marvelled at the velocity with which the
pumps emptied the bilge, dragged the bladder out of the two bags and onto the dock, and found the open seam. I DID try a couple
of quick 'possibles'; the hot bar (welding with heat) and the PVC primer/cement (welding chemically), but neither appeared even
remotely doable. So I called Ahoy Captain back and reinstated the order for a new bladder. Oh, well.
December 17, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I have to get started cutting and fitting floor planks.
The cabin sole is cut and installed - temporarily - and I did the dance of joy on it. When I get the bladder and finalize the water
tank situation, I'll glue and screw and fiberglass the floor in. I will have a couple of 'special' tasks to perform during that job, such
as doubling the sole thickness where the computer seat pedestal will be secured, and coming up with a way to hold three of the
difficult water tank tabs on each tank. Both jobs will be a bit tricky, but not bad. For just about the first time, I have had visitors
aboard the boat. Eddie and Richard. It's the first time I've had a floor to walk on.
December 20, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I went to Home Depot and Lowe's with Don and Barb to look around at stuff and get out of the boat for a while. It looks like
Donny and I will take the trip to Miami on Tuesday and I'll get the Solar Panels and get squared away with them about the poor
condition of the Outback controller.
December 21, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Getting those things ready to mail and trying to get through to Sun Electronics in Miami. It would suck to drive all the way over
there tomorrow only to discover they don't have in stock what I'm looking for.  . . . . . . .   I just got through to Sun Electronics and
someone told me that I had to come to the office first and pay for the panels, then drive to the warehouse ten blocks away to pick
them up. Naturally, my first thought is, 'What if the only ones you have left in stock are damaged pieces of crap?' It's a fair
question, based on what I've already seen from this company. My Outback Charge controller was unwrapped and scarred from
kicking around for who knows how long. Still, I'm willing to go to Miami and fight it out with them to get the solar panels and be
done with it. It is true that I could just go to another distributer and start over there, but that would mean a giant tussle getting
my money back from Sun Electronics and paying about $700 MORE for the exact same components somewhere else. $700 that I
don't have.

So, it's much later and I thought and thought and didn't come up with any ideas as to how I could possibly get those solar panels
from Miami to here. Depressing. A little. No matter what, I would have found a way somehow. Then Tom Blackshear stopped
over to ask about Sandy and Eddie. Tom is the guy who bought the truck. We chatted for a while and I brought him up to speed
with Sandy and her surgery and recovery, and the problem I'm struggling with in getting the solar panels. Then he said, "Where
in Miami? I'm doing a job over there for a couple of days this week and I can stop in and pick them up for you. Are they all paid
for?"

So I said, "They will be if you say you can pick them up, and I'll give you $100 for bringing them back here." He thought about it
for a few seconds and said he would. I think he was struggling with wanting to say he'd do it for nothing, but he's at least as tight
for money as I am, and while it's a good thing to allow others to help you if they offer, it's a better thing to give them fair pay if
you can afford it. The shipping would have cost me $230, and the trip with Donny would have cost me $100 for fuel and food,
plus a long day of driving. If Tom can do this, he'll let me know by tomorrow or so and I'll buy them over the phone and get the
address for Tom to stop by and pick them up. That'll work just fine.
December 22, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

When I came back outside, I told Tom I'd call him with the invoice number after Carlos called me back and gave it to me, then
Tom hit the road. For the next few hours Tom and I relayed messages and I kept in touch with Sun Electronics until we realized
that Tom would never get there in time, so I called Sun and told them so. I also told them that Tom would be stopping by Sun at
9 AM tomorrow to get the panels. Tom also told me he would call me in the morning, I suppose after he'd gotten them and was
heading back.
December 23, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

The panels should be showing up today, and to tell the truth, I'd love to know when the bladder will be coming for the water tank.
I should write them an email. Of course, it IS December 23rd and most of the world is wrapped up in Christmas and/or blizzards,
including Europe, so I shouldn't be too awful surprised if my priorities aren't at the very top of some folks' lists. I'm still going to
have plenty to do around here now that it's warming up again. I HAVE finally fallen through one of the open hatches in the cabin
sole, now that I have the rest of the sole down, so hatches would seem to be a priority. I'll do them today. I should also be making
a grocery list and a West Marine list.

It is 6:30 PM and Tom is driving into the parking lot. I got the panels and they are triple mega awesome. I paid Tom straight away
and he carried one of the panels to my boat for me, then we tied the panels to a piling and talked for half an hour.
I got the three sole hatches for the cabin made today and
have them in place. After longer than I care to remember, I
have a floor to walk on. Of course, when the bladder gets here
the entire floor comes up and I have to install that water tank
and leak-test it. THEN the floor can actually be installed,
faired and fiberglassed into the boat.

The panels are something like 38 inches by 65 inches and I
REALLY need to find the right tubing to mount them in a
hurry so they are securely mounted and ready to connect up.
I'm a little freaked out to have them tied to a piling on the
dock. At the very least they should be on the boat somewhere.
I might do that before I turn in.

Donny said that he needed some stuff from the new metal
place in Sarasota and that we could take a drive down on
Monday, so that might be the final solution as to where to get
the metal stock for mounting the panels.
December 24, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Hey! Look what day it is! Yeah, well, just another day in paradise for me. I got the companionway ladder finished and installed.
Picture to follow. I like it. It isn't as heavy as I was worried about so I'm happy about that. Now I only have the two extremely
odd-shaped openings on either side of the ladder to figure out how to cover with something light, tight and fire resistant. I will
also have to cut ventilation holes from the engine room into each fuel tank hold and build Dorade boxes with air scoops on each
side of the main Bimini mounts. This will ventilate the engine room and holds and provide adequate air intake to feed the
engine. I am not sealing the battery selector box cover, which also connects to the engine room by not having any bottom, so
there would always be air intake through there.
The ladder looks good, even though the excessive amount of white
non-skid looks like beach sand. The thing is, if it begins to annoy me,
I'll just use some of that black non-skid material that's made for
skateboards and cut pieces to perfectly fit each step completely and
that will eliminate the beach sand look.

The freakin' solar panels look giant! Well, if I want the power I have to
carry the surface area somewhere. Hopefully, not too far down the
road, the Mars Rover solar panel technology will hit the market and much more powerful and efficient panels will be made
available. Until that time, these will have to do for me. They will provide somewhere between 150 and 175 amp-hours per day -
depending on how you do the math - and I will adjust my usage to allow for that, minimizing the time per week that I am
required to run the engine to charge the batteries. It will be very interesting to chart the individual devices and their draw over
the period of a month at a time and see what adjustments I can make in my lifestyle aboard to operate within the confines of
renewable energy. It's not like I won't be able to supplement with the 130 amp alternator and a little diesel fuel from time to
time, but I'm looking forward to the future.
December 30, 2009 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

It's supposed to be warming up today, but not much and not for long. The cold weather drags on. No big deal. The truth is, If I
was on the hook in Marathon, I might be a lot more uncomfortable than I am here. Here, I have heat, TV and unlimited
electricity. Hard to beat.

Randy called yesterday and got the last items I'll need from West Marine for a while. Being frugal has stretched the money I got
for the truck to it's limit and I am pleased with the results. I got the two solar panels and their delivery, the Outback charge
controller, the new bladder for the damaged water tank and $30 in new stainless hardware to secure the floors, the aluminum to
mount the panels and the rivet tool, drills and rivets, plus the paint, the new DVD drive and external 1 TB hard drive, the serial to
USB adapter, 30 CD discs, Ubuntu 9.10 plus the 7 disc repository, and 2 more rolls of aluminum tape. Not bad for $1800.
January 1, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I hung the jib again yesterday because it suddenly occurred to me that my long-time scheme of mounting the solar panels
between the clusters of shrouds might result in an unacceptable interference problem between the jib sheet and the solar panels.
Sure enough, there was no reasonable option available except to abandon the (hideous) mounting plan and find another way. So,
there goes the fabric Bimini. I will make a hardtop type Bimini and have the solar panels permanently mounted over the cockpit
where they can bump and cut and otherwise injure me constantly. At least it won't be so very ugly.
By removing the lower rigging block and tacking the jib straight to the bowsprit,
I can still use the double purchase halyard and minimize the lift on the deck
mounted turning block while maximizing the jib area. The huge size of the main
boom and resulting mainsail area dictate that balance will require plenty of jib
out front. Magnolia, the big Schooner that is here now, has a huge weather helm
problem that the owner is going to try to mitigate by extending the bowsprit. He
is an accomplished sailor with a circumnavigation under his belt and two years
experience sailing that particular ship, so it must be allowed that he has given
the subject considerable educated thought and knows what he's doing. All I
know for sure is that I have designed Falcon from the ground up and it is my
dearest desire not to have to cut off the spars and make it a motorboat because it
sails so poorly. I don't mind her being slow. There are those who would say I'm a
little slow myself, but I want her to be comfortable and pleasing to sail. And just
plain gorgeous to watch sail by. Damned ugly TV antenna. It's like a goiter, a
wart on a witches nose, a giant zit on a prom queen's forehead. I've GOT to do
something about it.

The more I think about the Bimini hardtop the better I like it. I'll have to get a
bit more of the special stuff to attach the old Bimini cloth to the edges, but it's
not expensive and easy to use. It's a plastic or aluminum bolt rope track that
rivets onto the edges of the solar panels and makes a watertight seal with the
cloth once a bolt rope is sewn into the edges. I will make the new hardtop a bit
wider and more solid than before, and be exceedingly grateful not to have the
massively ugly midships installations on the boat.
January 4, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

By cutting the center of the two huge bows out and slipping the new aluminum tubing over the cut ends, I will end up with two
straight and rigid sections of aluminum tubing 84 inches long that I can easily adjust to be exactly 65 inches apart, the length of
the panels. As they sit, that happens to be just about the exact dimension of the bows right now. By mounting the panels right at
the outer edge of the aluminum, there will be a 9 inch gap in the center. Not much, but just enough to limit the shading of the
panels by the main boom. Eventually I'll be making a new 'cradle' type sail cover for the main, but for a while I will have to make
do with an old style wrapper type. Still, I'm hoping to minimize the shading. I will use one of several 'trick' methods of closing the
gap. Maybe Plexiglass, or a section of the striped Bimini - I'll be using the edge pieces exactly where they are now - or something
else. Not figured out yet.

I went outside and got the cloth off the Bimini and some of the structure down. It's still a little cool outside and I came back in to
keep going on the huge backup project.
January 18, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I did a bit more wrestling with the new Bimini bows this morning to see just how hard it's going to be to get them assembled in a
way I can live with. I don't think it's going to be too hard. Yesterday I carefully measured and cut the center sections out of the
two main bows, then started fitting one of the 7 foot aluminum pipes over the cut ends of the side sections - after grinding the
burrs off the cut.
I actually cut the bows with them all still assembled as the old Bimini frame, then disassembled them and laid them on the deck.
I also removed the original forward deck fittings. For one thing, I know they will not be strong enough to support the two solar
panels for very long and the other thing is, I'm fairly certain I will need to do some 'height' adjustment for the entire affair once
it's assembled. I only hope I don't have to carpet the bottom of the panels with foam rubber to protect my head. I'm not known
for allowing much 'wiggle room' in my constructions. I measure my height, add an inch or so and build the ceiling.

One of the daunting tasks was to get the 13 inches of curved stainless all the way into the aluminum. As you can see in the
second picture, I figured it out. I levered the long end of the stainless a little and used a section of Ipe 4 x 4 to tap the stainless in.
I will put one 3/16 inch rivet on the bottom, inside end of the stainless, to prevent twisting and warping during the assembly of
the panels. Once all the panel rivets are installed the entire structure should be very strong and rigid.
January 19, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
It should be a beautiful day today and I'm hoping to
get more done on the Bimini frame. I have the
modified bows about how I want them and the frame
is put back together with the vertical and horizontal
braces adjusted to give me 65 inches between the
parallels. It's not quite right as seen here because
there is 10 inches between the front bow and the
boom and only 7 1/2 inches at the rear bow. That will
average out to about 8 3/4 inches at each end,
meaning I have to raise the entire frame about 6
inches. I can easily put two new legs in the rear, even
using the sweetly curved pieces I cut from the center
of the old bows, but the center blocks present
another problem. I'll have to think about them for a
while. Oh! I've got it! Tell you later, once I price it
out.

For now, let me just say, "Dorade Boxes". I've been
meaning to figure out where I would put the
ventilation scoops on each side - now I know. Be
back later.
January 20, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I am constantly adjusting and rearranging the resources for the hardtop in my head. I think I'll use the old bow center sections
for the horizontal braces on the sides. I did that on Joe Albright's Bimini and it made for nice hand-holds and a good look. Then I
can lengthen them and raise them back up to hand-hold height. I'll also have the old straight horizontal braces to use to extend
the rear struts. Or, vertical braces if you prefer. I'm sure there's an industry name for them somewhere. I need to go forward on
this and get those panels up and mounted, then move on to other things.

Once I get the hardware squared away on the hardtop, I'll need to move right to the canvas and get that behind me as well. While
I have the Sailrite out. As far as I'm concerned, I am out of here on the first of March. Hey! That's a good day. Ten year
anniversary of my quitting smoking. Thank God. That was a hard fight. Fourteen years of trying before it stuck.

I'll need to get out to Island Lumber today and get an 8 foot Ipe plank that I can cut up into pieces to make the Dorade boxes.
Once they are made, I can finalize the installation of the hardtop and get busy on the finishing. I don't think the whole thing is
going to be too ugly, all and all.

I went with Ken and Sandy to Anna Maria Island Lumber and bought an 8 foot piece of Ipe and had them cut it into 8 pieces.
Tomorrow I'll do the drilling and careful assembly and then let the Dorade boxes cure before sanding them and putting some
varnish on them. I should also check for the size of the holes for the scoops. There will need to be 4 holes of approximately 3.5 to
4 inches bored through two pieces of Ipe and two spots on the deck. Those alone will be a handful of work. Ipe is not called
'Ironwood' for nothing and it's a full inch thick. The Dorade boxes will be 6 1/2 inches high, lifting the hardtop frame nicely.
January 22, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I will now have to bring some scrap wood inside so I can start drilling and assembling the Dorade boxes. I still have to work out
the interior details. I was talking to Donny about them yesterday and he pointed out something I hadn't considered that bring a
great deal more flexibility to the mounting location on the deck. Variability in location makes it much easier to both get it as 'out
of the way' as possible and position the entire hardtop so it doesn't interfere with the main sheets or the jib sheets.  Be back later.
Hopefully, with pictures of built Dorade boxes.
I put the sides and tops together inside the boat before lunch and am now working outside. The ends are a bit more difficult. I'm
cutting them just a bit oversize, then sanding them to a near-perfect fit before drilling and screwing them in. Once I get each box
finished, I'll number each piece, take them completely apart, then wet the wood, apply the gorilla glue and assemble them one at
a time, waiting until all the screws are in before tightening any of them. Once it dries, I'll use the big grinder to start trimming
them, then finish with a palm sander and by hand.
Making and fitting the end pieces took more time than all the rest of the work combined. The glue up was every bit as weird as I
thought it would be, but it only took a short time for each one. Those 12 by 5 1/2 by 6 1/2 inch ironwood bricks are as heavy as
they sound. The upside is that Falcon couldn't care less and they are extremely strong. Considering their job as holding onto the
solar array, that's an important consideration.