How to make your boat a home

Just because you move into a new house, or buy a boat to live in, this does not make it a home. From different conversations I have had with people, whether online or in person, they ask how did you make your boat a home? In short, I made it ours! With a few decorating techniques and a little bit of love, tenalach quickly become our home. A place for us to relax, be comfortable, and enjoy the simple things in life. Below are my top five things, in no particular order, that helped to make tenalach our home.

1. Lighting
2. Smells
3. Hanging Decorations
4. Carpet 
5. Be aware of the clutter!

Lighting - one of the biggest changes we noticed was when we went from dark brown in the entire boat (including the ceiling) to an off white. We had to replace some side paneling, and when we replaced them we also painted them an off white to add some light to the boat. The headliner we put in was PVC and that was painted the same color. Instantly, the top half of the boat was white and therefore lighter.

As far as physical lighting goes, Chuck and I really prefer a warm light. (This was something we discovered when his mom came to help me decorate our first home in Manitou Springs, CO. We had to buy new lamps, and it made such a huge difference for us.) For us to create an even softer light on the boat, we recently purchased new lamp shades and man WHAT A DIFFERENCE. I am almost annoyed at what an impact a $13 lamp shade from Defender Industries is making!

Smells - Scent is tied to memories, therefore we try to "burn" some of our favorite memories. One of our favorite things is to burn incense, both for the scent and for the spiritual benefits. I recently purchased sage smudges for Chuck, which historically were used to send bad spirits away. I like to think it sends some of his work stress out from the boat before I get home, so I have a relaxing environment when I get home. Chuck's mother gave us a smudge spray to use as well for Christmas.

We have large dogs. They smell. We have beds for our large dogs. They smell. Hmm... We had to invest in a fabric cleaner to help with some of this because we are in much smaller quarters and during the winter we are not able to spray the dogs off with the hose or throw the beds out to air out. Very soon I will be trying different doTerra oils that are meant to do the same thing, but are obviously much more natural. I will keep you updated!

Hanging Decorations - While wall space is limited, and taking up too much space will make the space seem smaller, a few well placed pieces make a big difference. We have a couple frames hanging with family pictures and have some art we bought together at an Art Festival in Manitou Springs, CO. Lastly, I somewhat took over the aft head and added some of my daily affirmations and inspirations while I get ready. We lovingly call this Cookie's Corner :)

Part of Cookie's Corner

Carpet - Chuck and I both don't like wearing shoes, and I really don't like socks either. One of my favorite things to do is take off shoes and socks after work so my feet are FREE! Walking on a cold, wood floor was not working for us. We spent the $120 on carpet and it made such a difference in making this boat a warm and comfortable place where you don't need shoes!

Before... eww!

After :)

Clutter - I know Chuck would agree with me when I say he has spent the majority of his life NOT putting things away. This obviously does not work on a boat. In my opinion, tenalach is like a really big, 3-D puzzle. We are still making changes as we add different things to the boat (composting head, dehumidifier, heater), and after getting new collapsible kitchen gear for Christmas. But clutter very quickly takes away from this amazing little home we can have. We both had temper tantrums at one point or another because something didn't fit right, or we still had too much stuff. We are slowly getting there, and realizing that if we just pick up after ourselves right away, this makes for a much happier boat and couple. Plus the dogs can't eat it or slobber on it if we pick it up!

I would love to know how you made your boat your home! I am always looking for tips!

~ Cookie, and Enzo my lapdog :)

Warming up the Cabin

Well we finally got it installed! Behold: the Dickinson Newport Solid Fuel cabin heater! It took us two days (getting used to that), some elbow grease, and a lot of patience, but as I sit here drinking my orange spice tea from Adam's Mountain Cafe (Manitou Springs, CO), the heater is burning lump hardwood charcoal and putting out a gentle, steady heat. A neat side effect is the wonderful, rustic smell that emanates from the charcoal. It's way better than any odor a diesel or kerosene heater would generate! It's only been about 12 hours, but so far we are thoroughly enjoying this heater. We'd like to burn anthracite in it, but have not yet found a retailer that would sell in single bags. Since my parents live in WV, they're looking for some for us up there. If anyone knows of where we can get some either locally in Hampton Roads/Richmond or shipped to us, please leave a comment!

The installation of the heater was relatively straightforward in its technical demands; but of course, a bit involved in execution. The most difficult part of the installation, both technically and emotionally, is cutting a hole in the boat. There's something completely counter-intuitive about doing that, and I just don't like it much. Because we have a rack for our rigid dinghy on the cabin top directly above where the heater is installed on the bulkhead, we had to shift the chimney stack starboard by 2 feet and aft by about a foot, to leave the dinghy a safe distance from the heat of the stainless steel stack. We also had to balance keeping the flue a safe distance from anywhere someone would put their head or hands. After the location was decided, the fun began! We went to our local Ace Hardware and picked up a 5" hole saw to do the deed, and got to it. headliner down, start drilling. I went from the top down for most of it. The pic to the left is just cleaning up the last bits from underneath. Below is what the rough cut looked like after about 4 hours of drill, charge, drill, charge. I guess we need a new battery!

 Once the hole was complete, we called it a night at about midnight. The forecast was for a pretty solid line of storms the next morning, so I went up, put the through deck fitting over the hole, covered it with a bucket, and made sure it was secure. After the rain the next morning, I went up to complete the through-deck installation. After a couple false starts, I realized that the screws Dickinson provided were not self-tapping, so a quick delivery of drill bits through our new 5-inch hole from the admiral and we got the through deck centered and locked down. Drop the H-style cap on, and the above-deck part was complete. Note: the flue is only 3 inches in diameter. The installation manual required a 1-inch air gap all the way around the pipe as it went through the deck. We lined the inside of the hole with life caulk to protect from any water intrusion that is sure to happen at some point. The through deck fitting has a weather gasket under the screws.

After we placed the flue pipe where it needed to be, we marked  where the liner and heater needed to be set, drilled the bolt holes through the liner and bulkhead and locked it down. Of course it takes 10 seconds to write it, and about 3 hours to actually do. 

Zia was project manager for this one. 
We got that all installed, peeled the protective plastic from the stainless flue and liner, and fired her up. We're very happy with this purchase and it gives us freedom to anchor on cool nights, without the need to be tied to power for our electric heater. Below is the finished project. Pardon the mess with the settee, we're redoing that, too. 

And here's a silly video of me and Enzo, just for fun!

Our First Winter Aboard and New Stuff!

Well, it's been a month since we've blogged, and winter is in full force in Hampton. Extreme High and Low tides, rapid temperature and weather changes, slippery docks, and my all-time favorite, "East Coast Gray." 39 degrees and raining is the absolute worst. Tenalach is doing great, though!
East Coast Gray on the Ponds, Dec 2014
In better news, we ordered and installed our Nature's Head Composting Toilet! Our original head setup was with two manual pump marine toilets plumbed to a direct-overboard discharge. This is illegal within three miles of any US coastline, and so not a viable option for us to keep, in that setup. We could have opted to plumb them for a holding tank, but after our dock neighbors on Veritas had a leaky holding tank, we weren't interested. On top of that, having a large tank of poop soup sloshing around under the V-berth didn't sound very appealing to us. So we removed both of those when we were in the yard at Dandy Haven, and traded them with the owners of an Endeavor for their cushions, which they were replacing anyway. We'd been using a port-a-potty from a friend for emergencies, but mostly using the marina bathrooms to do our business. With winter fast approaching, we knew this would not be a viable situation for us, so we did the research and took the plunge into the composting world. So far, we just love it. We've had one single issue with the installation (and it was my fault), which was not securing the agitator handle correctly. We've got that situated and we're golden. No odor, no chemicals, no poop soup. 

Of course, it wasn't that straightforward. We removed all the original pedestal material as it had molded and was stinky. We rebuilt the pedestal with marine polymer material (which was crazy expensive), to give the head enough clearance off the hull that it would not take up the entire compartment. We had to consider seat height and clearance from the sides as well. The resulting compromise was to angle it slightly so that it fit snugly against the hull, and gave more standing room in front of the sink and mirror. 

Sparing you all the details, you fill this thing with peat moss and do your business into a trap door, spin the agitator handle and the material breaks down into dirt. This is rated for 2 people to use full time for 30 days before it needs emptied. Since we use the marina bathroom and Michelle works outside the boat, we won't need to empty it that much. 

Liquid waste is diverted into the 2.2 gallon tank in the front of the unit. This is easy to remove and empty into any toilet. The only resources the Nature's Head uses is a very low draw of 12v power to run a computer fan that keeps the fumes generated by the composting process vented overboard. I re-purposed one of the light fixtures to provide access to the 12v line.  In the picture above left, you can see the vent hose coming from the right side of the unit. We used a hole saw to make a hole in the side of the cabin, put a nice stainless steel louvered vent cover on top of it after sealing it all with LifeCaulk. It turned out pretty nice and we've had no leakage or odor whatsoever. We insulated the hull (not yet covered) before putting in the new pedestal. 

While we were just finishing up the project, I emerged from the head compartment and noticed our lights where very dim in the cabin. I went to the engine room to check on the battery charger and found that it was no longer functioning. No lights. Nothing. Looked for fuses, tried everything. It was dead. There wasn't enough juice left to start the engine to charge the batteries, so we powered down everything that ran on the batteries to a single light bulb in whatever cabin we were in, and I went to get a new charger first thing in the morning. 

While in the engine room rewiring the batteries to the new charger, I decided I would take the opportunity to remove the factory charger that was long-defunct. This thing was HEAVY, but only on one side. As I was hauling it up on top of a rolling suitcase to dispose of it, it fell off and landed on the back of my leg. It was only a minor cut as I had two layers on, but the impact HURT. Three days later I woke up to a swollen and black and blue ankle! It lasted two weeks. Unfortunately we were traveling a bunch and didn't get any photos. Sorry!
We've also gotten a dehumidifier to help with the "indoor rain" that accompanies winter on sailboats. We found a nice, out of the way spot for it and it can drain right into the sink, so no need to empty the tank! 

It hasn't all been cold and dreary! We did get one quick sail in on a very warm day in December. It was very light wind and calm seas, perfect for taking photos!