A Little news before the year ends.

Shane and LisaWell we have just about finished up the year here.   The introduction back to the USA was not without its challenges but we have had worse.   Having returned with little in the bank that we wanted to spend, we have financed our way deep enough into society to keep us in San Francisco for at least 7 years if not longer.

We are now part owners (the bigger half belongs to the bank) of a new Toyota Corolla for Lisa and a big Ford Diesel truck that Bill has wanted for years and Lisa insists we will need for Boon Docking later in the year.  Our financial encumbrance has brought an end our use of Bills brothers’ truck for transportation.  The truck did re-introduce us to all the reasons we really didn’t want to purchase an older vehicle.

In the three weeks that we used the truck (a total of perhaps 100 miles) we had the battery give out, two flat tires, an alternator that quite charging and needed replacement and finally another dead battery.   We were aware that the battery was a problem when we first picked up the truck so the first day we had the truck we took it in to have the battery checked out and then just replaced the battery.   The truck worked great for perhaps a day then on Lisa’s first drive around town in the truck (Bill has taken her new Corolla to work) she had a flat tire.   Being in town she just limped down the street and had it replaced.   The next day she fired up the ol’ truck and drove to the laundry mat.  Unfortunately the new tire she had just replaced sprung a leak and soon she was faced with either drying clothes or taking the tire back for a replacement of course she did the right thing and dried Bills underwear before going to the tire shop.  Following this episode she took her car away from Bill and forced him to begin riding the ferry across San Francisco bay to get to work.

With the truck now used for just getting Bill from the ferry to work, a total of 1 mile, the truck serviced us just fine until last week when the alternator gave out.   Another fix and the truck ran fine for 3 more days.  On Friday of last week the battery died again and that was the final straw, we purchased a new truck and returned big brothers truck to him.

Culturally we are just about there as well.   We have not taken on the trait of following our Starbucks coffee cups or cellular phones up and down the boulevard, but we are closing in on that.   We are pretty sure that the coffee cups will become bottles of water when the weather warms up a bit in March, but it is such a different sight to see people lead through the streets by an inanimate object.   When we think back to Mexico we can’t even remember people, other than tourists, who felt the need to have liquid containers in their hands everywhere they went, even in the summer months.

Surprisingly our fuel consumption and maintenance have not gone down since we arrived in California.   With the cool temperatures we have had in San Francisco we continue to run through about 40 or 50 gallons of diesel each month just trying to keep the inside of the boat at about 75 degrees.  Unfortunately the fuel at the marine pumps is $5.58 per gallon, so it is going to be an expensive couple of months.  We are trying to keep the engines and everything else on board running and lubricated and that resulted in us discovering an overheat problem with the generator.  Seems the heat exchanger was just about to depart us in Mexico and since we didn’t stay there we discovered that it was clogged up during one of our weekly engine runs.   It is currently in San Leandro working on a $150.00 facelift.   To add to our list of items that we don’t use much in San Francisco but have decided that the better part of neglect is decay, our forward water tank needs replacement as well.   On the up side the heater, windless, wash-down pump, bow thruster, water maker and just about everything else are working at peak performance.

Uke comAlso at Peak performance is yet another Ukulele for Bill.  Lisa swears he has either adopted Kevin Keith (The Director of Marketing in Nicaragua) or has joined the Uke of the month club.  It’s a strange fascination he has with the instrument, but at least he stays at home and out of the bars.

Silvio Conto is the Nica Tiki companies head Luthier and Bill has asked them to build a Ukulele with a 100% Nicaraguan Cocobolo top and back.   He has also asked them to install tuning pegs called Peg Heads which is a product that Nica Tiki has never used before.  Silvio Conto According to Bill these “tuners” look like the pegs you would see on an old fashioned Ukulele but they are geared inside…High Tech for the Beyond Reason crew.   The guys at Nica Tiki seem to be almost as excited to build the Uke as Bill is about getting it into his “Uke Stable”.   We have included a couple of pictures of the yet to be finished Uke.   The lighter wood is the sapwood of the Cocobolo, we think the contrast of the natural wood and the way that Silvo has matched the two sides of the Uke really set it apart from anything else we have seen before.

We better get this posted before 2014 beats us to the punch.   Have a great New Year.

The tans are fading but good times still abound!

 

New Baby“Would you like to purchase a bag” the lady at the Lucky Supermarket check stand said.   Bill could not believe what he had just heard but asked anyway in his typical upfront manner, “What? Would I like to purchase a bag for my purchases, No”.   Well did you bring a bag for your purchases; was the reply and again Bill replied, “No”.  The conversation was going nowhere until the Check Stand lady retorted that “You must not be from around here”.  This was AlamedaCalifornia, the neighbor of OaklandCalifornia, Oak-Town for those from the hood.   We are an easy 10 miles from the likes of Gavin Newsom and San Francisco, but here we find that the oddness of San Francisco has somehow leaked up from the bay and in-filtered our new town.   It is told that these days if you don’t bring in your own carry bags for the groceries you just purchased that the store owners will charge you for each bag you need to carry your goods home.

 

We are all for conservation, but we believe the main reason for the new law was to help eliminate plastic bags from entering the water stream.   How charging us for plastic bags is going to solve that trouble we don’t know.  Why not just go back to paper bags:  Recyclable, sustainable, biodegrades quickly and heck it will keep our loggers employed.  Lucky we only had two or three items to carry home.

 

So After finishing our first complete week of being bound to a dock we are now reflecting on just what it is we have done.   No more can Bill crack a beer at 9 AM without the feeling of guilt.   In times past, our friends Terry and Diane could have heard that first morning fizz from 20 miles away and would have came screaming up in their dinghy to offer up help in emptying our refrigerator of any unnecessary clutter cause by too many bottles chilling in the bottom.  Our experiences of waking up in the morning to find nothing but peace and quiet and a few rays of sun peaking in the windows have vanished as well.   A power boat now looms over us just 5 feet away, and although Pat and Michelle are great neighbors, leaving the shades up at all hours of the day and night just doesn’t feel right.   Heck we don’t want to scare good neighbors away.   Yep, our freedom is slowing passing and good times are now measured by the hours that we count down to next weekend and then we wonder how much fun we can fit in before Monday’s alarm goes off.

 

It certainly is not all bad.  We have had time to visit family, see the new Grandkids, shop for fresh foods and look for homes but if you live in Bills world one of the greatest things to happen has been the delivery of his new Ukulele.  

 

Bill has been expecting his Ukulele for nearly 2 months now. After waiting for it to be made, waiting for it to ship to Florida, waiting for it to transfer to the United States Postal Service, waiting for the USPS to deliver it to the wrong address in San Diego and finally make it’s way up to our son Han’s house near Sacramento, Lisa drove the truck 70 miles to recover it and finally bring it home here in Alameda.   Was it worth the wait….Hmmm…YES!

 

The Owner of Nica Tiki Ukuleles has treated Bill like he was family.   From the day Bill contacted them to the day the Ukulele delivered Kevin Keith has personally been involved with helping to select one of the most awesome Ukulele’s we have ever seen.  All the Nica Tiki Ukuleles we have seen have been fabulous but ours just is a little bit more special.   When our son Hans opened the USPS box that contained our new baby he called his dad and said it was the best looking and best sounding Uke he had ever seen, pretty strong words from our son. 

 

When Bill started to strum out some light blues cords, Lisa almost melted.  The sounds were beautiful, but it was really warm in the boat as well so it was a combination of the heat and sound that led to her liquefied state. Really the Uke was incredible right out of the box and the only thing that even challenged the sound was wood grain and finish of the Uke itself.   Being made of Cocobolo we can think of no more beautiful wood to construct an instrument from.   When you look at the grain it makes the mini-ax seem alive, and it doesn’t take much to get the party started either.  If you have ever heard Nigel Tufnell of the at one time fictitious rock group Spinal Tap talk about his favorite guitar, you will get a sense of what this uke means to Bill.   Just looking at the strings make them sing.

 

Anyway, we dig the new toy and have plans to order an even more custom one in the future.

 

The house hunting is going slow.  We found out that although we are well qualified for the homes we are looking for, there will be about a six month waiting period from the time our new jobs have started to the time that we are finally able to make application.  Something to do with being out of the country and jobless for more than a year.   So we will be update photospending just some of our weekends looking for the perfect spot to settle into.  This is not going especially well for Lisa as she is anxious to move to the next adventure and she doesn’t know if that will involve more travel, building a home, fighting for the right to pave over some long forgotten slug’s or rats pasture land or just moving back to our old home in Winters.   Lots of decisions.

 

We don’t know if we will get another update out before Christmas but we hope that everyone enjoys the season and we want to thank everyone who reads this blog for pushing us over the 50,000 hits marks.  It’s only a number but it makes us proud that we have posted something that others consider at least a spectacle if not a great way to waste 10 minutes worth or your boss’s money as you read it at work.

Some things never change.

“The boat is sinking”.   It almost sounds like the battle cry on Beyond Reason.   We don’t know how many times in the last couple of years we have declared that we were sinking, but it doesn’t raise the heart rate nearly as much as it use to.   At no time have we ever really felt that we were in need of launching the life raft. This time was just like the rest; the bilge was cycling once an hour or so, we could see water flowing into the low areas of the boat and there was a disturbing feeling that all the dust bunnies under the engine would soon be swimming for their lives if we didn’t do something.

 

The timing is never right for BR lghts com these types of fire drills and Bill had just finished putting on his tie and shinning his brogues when we noticed the bilge pump was running.  Even dressed in his finest Fork Lifting togs he knelt down and began to investigate where the water was coming from.   It didn’t take long for his assessment:  “It appears to be coming from either the drive shaft (the back of the boat) or somewhere up by the engine or water tanks (the front of the boat)”.   An astute concrete answer as expected,  but at least we knew if wasn’t coming from the top of the boat unless of course it was dripping down the sides and into the bilge.   Regardless he needed to get to work and the inflow didn’t appear to be able to sink the boat during the next 24 hours, so the bilge would just have to be monitored and hopefully Lisa would not have to resort to using the bucket to keep from soaking her espadrilles and capris.

 

While Bill was at work Lisa began to weave our lives back into society.  She scoped out the car market and decided we needed a used Ford Fiesta based on our budget.  She also contacted the phone companies and made another major choice in selecting our internet coverage.  The plan has almost succeeded, but she has had a hard time locating string long enough to connect our empty can of creamed corn up to the local telephone lines.  Even today we are still working on solving this last piece of the puzzle.  Trying to get DSL or even phone service down to the dock seems to be quite a chore for AT&T even though the dock box is already wired for service.

 

Not much has changed since Mexico except the conveniences we once enjoyed.  Propane, which fires up the kitchen stove is more difficult to find and Bill’s understanding of the English language failed to alert him to the “minimum charge” at the one station we found who could fill our tanks.   A $5 charge in Mexico suddenly cost us $16.25 here at home.   The local grocery stores are miles from the marina so recovering food cost us a $10 cab fare.   We really started to miss the cabs in Zihuatanejo where $2 got you all the way across town and that included the tip!

 

Bills commute, which we had hoped being 50 miles closer than the last time we lived here, has not decreased by that much.   What use to take between one and half hours to three hours, is now taking just sixty minutes, so we need to find something for him to do with all that spare time.  The good news is we did find the money to upgrade the Ford Fiesta to the Toyota Corolla, so at least he has a radio (optional equipment on the Fiestas we were looking at).

 

The laundry situation has changed a bit also.   Long gone are the days when we could drop off two weeks of stinky clothes to some nice villager and return 3 hours later to clean, folded and bagged linens.  It took Lisa two hours of scouting to finally find a clean laundry mat. With the proper laundry mat located the ordeal still was not over with. If you can believe it she had to do the laundry herself and she had to pay $15 as well.  $15 is just about two dollars more than having it done in Mexico. Her life of leisure suddenly came to a halt.

 

When Bill got back from work we began to narrow down the list of potential leaks and although it was a slow process that continued for several days we finally discovered the problem when we ran the forward water tank dry and suddenly the bilge quit running every hour.   Having never replaced the water tanks we probably could have assumed it would be the next item on our list of replacing every piece of equipment on this boat since leaving Mexico, but at least it is accessible.   Accessible may be too light a term as we do have to remove the dinning room table (bolted to the floor), remove the settee (or couch), unscrew a bunch of floor boards and then just disassemble a couple of transverse stringers (wooden cross members that hold the boat together) and pull the tank.   Not being able to live with a messy boat we will then re-assemble everything and wait for a new tank to be custom made and Viola! We can dis-assemble everything again to install the new tank.  Hmmm…”Sundowners and Sunsets in Mexico”, …”Sundowners and Sunsets in Mexico”, …”Sundowners and Sunsets in Mexico”…where are my ruby slippers.

 

We did get the Christmas lights up on the boat yesterday so we figure Bill’s gain of 30 minutes on the commute time helped out in that regard.  We will continue to pool his time savings and hopefully one day we can come up with enough time to find a land home.  Until then enjoy where you are and we hope all your commutes are short.