Swing Set

Dec 22, 201208:36 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

More Notes From Marathon

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Non-boaters, or seldom boaters, may not realize how much attention is required to keep a boat working in order to live on it. Take just the water system, for instance. At home, you just turn the faucet and the water comes out, or at least it does if you pay your water bill. We don't have a water bill, but when we turn the faucet, lots of things start happening.

First of all, we have to have water in the tank for water to come out. This requires getting the 120-gallon tank filled up about once a week. To accomplish this, we either get water when we get fuel or depend on the goodwill of others in order for them to allow us to fill up our tank. We may even pay for water, like we do here at the Marathon City Marina. Even though we are paying for a mooring ball, water is still 5 cents a gallon. We have the option of making our own water with our watermaker. We haven't started using it yet, but the 3 gallons per hour that we will get from it will require us to use some battery power, whether we are cruising, or we have to fire up the generator to make that happen.

So, let's say we have water in the tanks.... Turn the faucet, and a water pump comes on. You have to transfer the water from the tank to the faucet. In our case, two pumps come on. We have two pumps in order to keep water pressure up in the event someone is taking a shower and someone else wants to use another water faucet. (We have nine water sources on Swing Set.) Two pumps is good in case one quits, too. This has happened, and it was nice to not be out of commission while shopping for another pump.

We get water, and we use it, but then it goes down a drain. In our case, the sinks drain to a central sump in the bilge. This sump accumulates the "gray water" and, once the level gets high enough, a switch activates and a pump comes on to pump out the gray water. The sump needs to be regularly cleaned out because the soap scum gums up the switch and the strainer to the pump. We have replaced both the pump and the switch since we have owned Swing Set. The sump gets cleaned out about every four months. We use a wet/dry vac; it's a smelly job but doesn't take too long, as our sump is easily accessible.

Switches? Pumps? Electricity is required, either by AC or DC power. We have nine batteries on Swing Set, and they all have to stay charged up, a huge job in itself. We have to keep the generator maintained so it will work when we need it. The wind generators need to be considered, too. Keeping juice in the batteries is a constant effort on our part, and more conservation is part of the equation. You can't just drink beer for three days and forget about the power level in the batteries. Why do I know this?

In view of all of this, water conservation is always on the forefront. We don't waste it. Some things will always take place, no matter what. Rosie, keep shaving those legs....

All of these mechanisms just to get water to come forth from a water faucet is just part of the bigger mechanical picture of our little world here, and something new is learned all the time. Learning new things will help to keep our brains sharp, at least this is the hope.

Today, we need to take the dinghy over to the marina office to pick up a package from Amazon.com. We ordered dog food for Holly that was supposed to be delivered next week, but the six bags have already arrived. That's enough 5-pound bags to last a long time; maybe six to eight months.

This is another advantage to staying on a mooring ball; we can get packages delivered and have a place to pick them up. This makes shopping for needed items a lot easier. We can also get our mail sent here. I have an important letter coming from my father that we need to have a hard copy of, so we're having it sent to the marina, due to arrive before we depart next week.

One thing we don't like about Marathon is how most of the restaurants and services are lined up along the busy Overseas Highway. There are sidewalks along most of it, but sitting outdoors at any of the eating establishments means sharing your conversations with the exhaust of the passing trucks. We're looking forward to the more quiet settings of the Key West bars and restaurants. Quiet, unless folks visiting from up north are in attendance.

Doesn't sound too exciting around here does it? But the weather will change this afternoon, or tomorrow, so we can return to dinghy rides, swimming or just enjoying the view when we're not addressing the many issues that Swing Set requires of us. Not complaining. If we wanted things easy, we'd have sold the boat and sat in our condo for the rest of our lives and let our brains turn to mush. Oh, we intend to have our brains turn to mush anyway, but we'll be active until the end while it happens.

Enjoy your friends and family in the next few days; someone may be gone away on a boat somewhere by this time next year. It might even be you.

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