Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Friendship Meme for 2009

Here We Go!
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
We all get these over the ‘tubes... and as a rule, I ignore them. On the other hand, 2008 was a banner year for folks starting to read Toast Floats for the first time. In fact, it was the year in which the number of readers related to me was far surpassed by the readers who simply stumbled over this blog. So maybe a Friendship Meme actually offers an opportunity to those folks to get to know something about me rather than an insipid recreation of middle school slam books. Or maybe I just can’t think of anything else to write about this week.

What time did you get up this morning?
Sunrise. Does anyone know what time that is in Zihua this time of year?

Diamonds or pearls?

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
I have absolutely no idea. The damn thing was in Spanish, animated, it had a dog, there wasn’t any popcorn, and the Coke was divine. I love Mexican Coke. Americans need to dump corn syrup in favor of whatever they are using down here if our country is ever to get back on track.

What is your favorite TV show?
We have all seven seasons of Angel, two seasons of Farscape, and three seasons of Battlestar Galatica. I’d trade them all at this point for Eureka and the rest of Farscape. It’s all about the trade, baby.

What do you usually have for breakfast?
Pan dulce and a cafe au lait. Thanks to s/v Beach Access, though, we’re beginning to reclaim the concept of fruit smoothie for the morning meal. Probably healthier. The fruit down here is just amazing.

What is your middle name?
Toast. *laughs* No shit. There have got to be at least a dozen readers blinking in amazement. What? Did you think I just pulled “Toast” out of a hat? Okay, I did... but I also had it changed to my legal middle name when I married DrC.

What foods do you dislike?
I -want- to dislike packaged foods, but I have an unfortunate love of cookies and sugar corn pops. I’ve discovered I have a strong aversion to innards, and the more times I see them spread out at the mercado, the firmer I am of the opinion that guts are nasty and should not be eaten. Nor should pig heads or chicken feet... although Behan really wants to convince me otherwise on the feet, “Tastes just like chicken!”

What is your favorite CD at the moment?
No CDs. We ripped everything to iTunes before we cut the lines and left the disks in an enormous box in my mother’s garage. I’m really fond of a mix my father in law made of every piece of popular music he could find with the words “sail” or “sailing” in the lyrics. I’m also painfully addicted to listening to the score for High School Musical while doing chores.

What kind of car do you drive?
Avon 10’ dinghy with a Mercury outboard. I think we’ll go back to the 9.9 Yamaha, though, as soon as we can move the planing fins and get the 15HP upgrade.

Favorite sandwich?

What characteristic do you despise?
Isms. All of them. Indiscriminately.

Favorite item of clothing?
Clean panties.

If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
Some place featuring a king sized bed with box springs and dry sheets.

Where would you retire?
Any place cleaner than my boat.

Favorite sport to watch?
Kitty Climb the Main Sail

When is your birthday?
September -- I’m a Virgo. 

Are you a morning person or a night person?
What is your shoe size?
My Crocs say that I’m a Mens 6. That’s weird.

Do children count?

Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?
DrC has been in Seattle for nearly two weeks, and I have neither sunk the boat nor drowned my children. I’m feeling pretty smug about that.

What did you want to be when you were little?
I wanted to build an electric car.

What is your favorite candy?
Whatever is on the boat at the moment I have a craving for sweets.

What is your favorite flower?

What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? 
I deleted the calendar. I even emptied the Trash just to make sure it was gone. It’s a little frustrating, but it turns out that you can’t delete the Date & Time function on a Mac so Apple Bruce tells me what time it is every hour. Tomorrow is a good day. I’ll figure out how to shut up Bruce tomorrow.

What is your favorite pastime?
Wasting time on the Internet.

What are you listening to right now?
Skidoos. I hate those things. I need a weapon that I could mount on the bow that would neatly take them out when they get too close. The only thing worse than skidoos are those idiot parasailors who keep trying to hit the mast.

What was the last thing you ate?
Bollo and manchega with sliced cucumbers and papaya.

Do you wish on stars?

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Okay, that’s just a stupid question. As an aside, did you know they now have Crayons of the color “Macaroni and cheese”? Do you ever wonder how much Kraft had to pay Crayola to make that happen?

How is the weather right now?
Tropical paradise if you like that sort of thing.

The first person you spoke to on the phone today?
No phone. Girls did the morning cruisers’ net, so it was probably a fellow boat.

Favorite soft drink?
Fresca Toranja. I could live on it. You might know it as just Fresca.

Favorite restaurant? 
We always walk up into town far enough to leave behind 95% of the fat, white tourists from up North. The prices drop and the quality improves. Then we search out a restaurant stuffed to the gills with locals.

Real hair color?
Black and grey wires are starting to insert themselves into my mousy brown bristle brush while at the same time, the sun is bleaching the hell out of the lot of it. It’s just a disaster.

What was your favorite toy as a child? 

Summer or winter? 

Hugs or kisses?

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Blackberries. Okay, there is definitely a theme here, I realize. These memes assume you are essentially normal. What do you bet the next question is “Coffee or tea?” “Paper or plastic?” or “Skis or snowboard?”

Coffee or tea?

When was the last time you cried?
The kids brought me to tears a few days ago from sheer, unadulterated frustration. I haven’t had a really good all and out bawl however in quite awhile. It might have been when Greg died, and I was reminded that we’re not immortal.

What is under your bed? 
Two giganormous D-Cell batteries, a 26 HP Yanmar engine and 20 gallons of highly explosive fuel... Booo yah! There aren’t many women who can say that.

What did you do last night?
Made grilled cheese and smoothies for the girls and Beach Access. Went skinny dipping after everyone went to bed and watched my body light up the water as I moved around the boat.

What are you afraid of?
Something happening to DrC when the girls and are not there to help him.

Salty or sweet?

How many keys on your key ring?
It’s more like a float. Let’s see... dinghy lock, starter engine x 2, door padlock. Five? That sounds about right. Any more and the thing would sink.

How many towns have you lived in?
Counting Zihua? A lot.

How many years at your current job?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Time to Stop Moving

“The single most dangerous piece of equipment on a cruising sailboat is the calendar.”

Good Morning Sunshine
Good Morning Sunshine
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
I can’t remember who said that in which cruising book. It stuck with me, though. The context was weather and preparation. The author was warning newbie cruisers that the calendar can cause you to make decisions which are not in the best interest of yourself or your boat. Many of the lost ship disasters you hear about are experienced skippers forced by the calendar and a delivery schedule to make choices that otherwise would never have occurred to them.

However, an equally valid interpretation of this quote is in the context of lifestyle. Use the calendar to make your decisions regarding distance and destination and inevitably you’re going to miss something spectacular. s/v Third Day spent days in Meurtos and weeks in San Blas kicking up their heels enjoying themselves. We spent those same days pushing on to Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta to “meet up with folks.” Most of our friends are dawdling down the coastline while we rush down to get ourselves settled for DrC’s trip to Seattle to plump the cruising kitty.

The cruising life requires a very different approach than a vacation. Vacations are brief respites from the routine of regular life during which you visit a destination. Limited time results in a whirl wind check list of must-see, must-do, must-experience events. The almost inevitable result is that the return to work comes as almost a relief, a vacation from your vacation.

If ever a family needed a vacation from our vacation, it is the Conger family. We’ve proven ourselves dreadfully incapable of throwing away the calendar. Instead, we’ve been pushing towards one goal or another for nearly eight months and 3500 miles. Yes, we can check off the boxes: circumnavigate Vancouver, Neah to San Francisco, Catalina Island, Disneyland, Baja Ha Ha... check check check. But we are all so tired, we can hardly see straight. The boat is filthy, the provisions down to the last can of tuna and package of pistachio pudding (who the hell bought that?), and not a one of us has a full set of clean clothing. It’s time to stop moving.

Fortunately, this evening we arrive in Zihuatanejo, our southernmost destination for the 2008 - 2009 winter cruising season. We plan to drop the hook and stay at least a month while we wait for DrC’s return and the winds to shift. We plan to do ... nothing. Actually, we have no plans. We might see something or do something, but we’ll let it come organically. Other than boat maintenance and school, I have nothing more ambitious on our calendar than getting sail mail working.

Symbolically, this afternoon I deleted iCal. I’m going to forget everyone’s birthday, but it’s not like I ever remembered to do anything about them anyway. Sometime in February... or maybe March?.. the winds will start to shift to the southeast and s/v Don Quixote will begin our journey back north. Originally, we planned to be in La Paz for La Paz Fest in April. Now? We’ll see. The dangerous calendar has been removed, so it’s not clear we’ll even know what day it is.

I feel so much safer.
The View Out our Back Window
The View Out our Back Window
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.

Author’s Note: Written the day we arrived in Zihua.... um... awhile ago. At least a week. I think...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cooking Tip - Tomato Basil Pot Soup

Soup Ingredients
Soup Ingredients
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
In Questions from the Class - Honored Guests, I mentioned the utility of having a Pot Dinner. A pot dinner is a recipe you can make in large quantity in your pressure cooker using ingredients you can stow aboard for weeks or even months. You pull this dinner out at the end of a long stretch when provisions are scarce or when you come into an anchorage and need to throw something together quickly to be social. The pot dinner recipe should be something you can throw into the pot and pressure cook for a half hour while the rest of the family is frantically scraping sand and hair out of the cockpit.

Our pot dinner is an essentially vegetarian tomato basil soup. While it benefits from using fresh ingredients, you can make it entirely from stuff stowed deep in a locker under spare printer cartridges, rainy day activities, and fabric for projects you’ve forgotten.

Tomato Basil Pot Dinner
1 lg chopped onion
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsps garlic powder (use the real stuff if you still have it)
1 jug or can (64 oz) of tomato vegetable juice -- We use V8.
2 chicken buillion cubes -- Optional so if you’re feeding a vegan, add salt instead.
1 lg can of diced or whole tomatoes
1 cup dried bean thing -- Black eyed peas are the healthiest but we’ve also done this with navy beans, white beans, pinto, kidney, and lentil.
1 cup dried grain thing -- My favorite are the little shells, but again, use whatever you have handy.
2 tbs of dried basil
2 cps vegetables -- This is the perfect time to get rid of end of provision mankies such as limp carrots, tired cabbage, and sad celery. It’ll taste fine. However, if you’ve got nothing else, chuck in a can of green beens, corn, or carrots. Even VegAll works.

Basil in a Pot
Basil in a Pot
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Sauté the olive oil and onions in your pressure cooker. If you’ve got real garlic left, sauté it with the onions. Throw into the pot absolutely everything else. My cooker is a 6 qt so I add water until I get to the “no higher or it will explode” line. Basically, you’ll need at least 4 cups or the soup will be stew. Bring to pressure and cook until beans are done. In my cooker, this takes about 20 minutes at pressure. Let the pot depressurize until the guests arrive. Serve with crackers, bread, or something your guests bring. Tell them to make it fresh-made bread. That’ll take enough time for you to give yourself a bit of a bath before they arrive in addition to scrubbing the mud out of the cockpit.

Friday, January 16, 2009

You Take It With You

The kids fight. All the time.

DrC isn’t Mr. Happy Pants.

I still want to rule the world.

Gettin' On Your Game
Gettin' On Your Game
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
No one said selling everything, throwing the rest away, moving on a boat, and sailing to Mexico would make it all better, but somewhere I must have gotten the idea. I know this because now I’m disappointed that it hasn’t happened. My family is living proof that you can change literally every aspect of your physical and economic life and still be a typical, moderately dysfunctional group of strong-willed smart asses.

We woke up this morning, and I realized we had not achieved our fantasy objective of being a perfectly happy, well adjusted family. DrC stretched on the bed and listened to my maundering tirade on misery looking for all the world like an advertisement for boxer shorts. All by itself, the situation made me bitter. In six months that man has lost his slight, upwardly-mobile-middle-class-professional paunch and added 15 pounds in all the best places. He’s tan, his beard makes him look distinguished, and I swear he’s losing all his grey hair and growing back in new soft curly brown stuff. I, on the other hand, look very much the way I have since Aeron was born: 20 pounds overweight, completely incapable of managing even the most basic female skin care rituals, and gaining grey hair at the rate of three per day. Yes, I take inventory.

So there we are -- DrC stretching and preening and making my mouth water -- and me trying to explain why we’re completely hosed as a family unless we do Something Drastic. Unfortunately, my husband didn’t disagree. The negative energy vortex on the boat has reached some sort of critical beaufort rating where the waves are flattened and the wind spume is hissing across our nerves with a low steady roar of frustration, sarcasm, and snarky comments.

I would love to blame this on my eldest. Teenagers are a fabulously convenient scapegoat for familial conflict. They are such monsters that it is easy to credit them with converting an otherwise happy, loving family into a six pack of spitting, barking rabid weasels. However, it’s not her fault. Jaime is what she is. We have allowed heat, dirt, close quarters, and over-exposure to transform us all into big bad meanies. The process took all five of us, and it will take all of us to take the energy out of the negative shit storm, calm the waves, and start moving in a new direction.

Aeron’s idea is to reinstitute Happy Bean Day.

Mera wants us to talk about how we feel. Every day. Or every other day.

DrC is committed to smiling at least once a day. He’s also agreed to try to first assume the positive rather than going with the foregone conclusion that none of the rest of us know what we’re doing.

I plan to pretend that my posse are standing behind my shoulder listening to every word I speak. My girlfriends, Mom and MIL love me but have little patience with my avowed suspicion that my children are actually Spawn of Evil from Planet Zoor.

Jaime just smirks. Did I mention she’s a teenager? We’ll work around her.

DrC once told me that he saw no point in getting divorced and finding a newer, better, younger model. He figures all the problems in our marriage are at least half his fault, and he’d just take them with him. No point in going to all the work of finding a new woman if she’d still only want to have sex about one out of every ten times he did and only after having a meaningful conversation.

Virtually Armed to the Teeth
Virtually Armed to the Teeth
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
This is more or less true for most major changes in your life. New job, new house, new city, new lifestyle -- each brings an opportunity to modify your core. But you can only shift the fundamentals of yourself and your family with a great deal of concentrated, deliberate effort. To make our family behave like a team, we are going to have to start working together. Simply putting us on the boat and assuming magic would happen was a disappointing failure -- albeit in retrospect a not particularly surprising one.

So this month we’re going to work on our attitude. I promise I’ll work on my flab next month.

Now look who’s smirking.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Doing More With Less - Electricity

The boat teaches many lessons in conservation. This is part of an ongoing series of posts about how we boaters do more with considerably less. The tips are valid for land based life as well, though, so hopefully folks can use some of these ideas.

Solar Panel Frame
Solar Panel Frame
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
We have to make every erg of electrical energy we use. Not surprisingly, this makes us very stingy consumers of electricity. On a boat, there are five ways to produce electricity:

Hook to shore power - You can buy electrical at a marina. Sometimes it comes with the dock fee, sometimes there is an extra charge. In either case, it costs a lot of money to tie up. We anchor out as much as possible so it does not behoove us to rely too heavily on topping off the batteries on a dock.

Generators and engines - You can use alternators to charge your batteries by burning fossil fuels either in your engines or a generator. In both cases, however, you are engaged in that environmentally icky and incredibly expensive process -- converting dinosaurs to lumens. We prefer to charge our batteries this way only as a by-product of moving the boat. It is depressing how often weather and timing force our sail boat to be a very slow motor boat. When this happens, we call the energy that flows into our batteries “bonus points.”

Solar panels - We have two panels and a solar charge controller. The entire setup, including DrC’s nifty kludge of a mounting panel, cost us roughly two boat bucks. We consistently get about 15 amps an hour during the day. Let’s call it about 100 per day. More panels gets you more power. On a boat, it’s rather challenging figuring out where to put them. The great thing about solar panels is that if you set them up correctly, you can then forget their very existence. They just keep pumping out power.

Wind generator - Many cruising boats travel with a wind generator. We do not, but maybe someday we’ll add it to the boat. The principle advantage of a wind generator is that it can produce energy 24 hours per day. The disadvantages are the noise and that they require a lot of baby sitting. It is a very bad idea to forget you have a wind generator when you are in high winds. Even so, it’s very tempting to add one to the boat.

The final way to generate power is the most important -- don’t use it. Just as on land, the amp you don’t use is the cheapest one to generate. Boaters in general are pretty clever about reducing consumption. I’d like to think on Don Quixote we’re doing a reasonably good job. I’ll start with a list of ways we conserve, but this is one of those times where I would really like people to actively contribute additional suggestions. Other boaters have no doubt developed very creative ways to reduce their use of electricity.

LEDs - An expensive but very efficient way to reduce consumption is to switch all the lights on the boat from incandescent to LED. The masthead light, for example, burns all night to alert boats moving through the anchorage of our location. At 2 amps per hour, that’s roughly 24 amps a day. The LED version consumes roughly 2 amps for the entire night.

Ditch the Power Toys - Some power tools make for a much safer cruise as you can fix your own equipment, sew your own covers, or build your own furniture. Others just take up space and weight and consume a lot of power. Ditch the microwave, bread maker, hair dryer, coffee maker, and blender. Dispense with every power sucker and change your lifestyle. As an example, we use a manual coffee grinder from the Lehman’s catalog. It’s beautiful and slows our consumption considerably.

Guard Against Vampires - Chargers for phones, iPods, laptops, GPS and VHF handhelds, and other such little toys consume energy, even after your device is fully charged. Surprisingly, the amount of energy they draw even fully charged is actually quite substantial. We put all these devices on a single power strip. We control the entire strip with a single button. This enables us to charge everything for a few hours, then cut off the charger vampires in one swift stroke. A side benefit is safety since batteries, battery chargers, and transformers have a well-deserved reputation for periodically setting themselves ablaze.

Change Your Sleeping Habits - Wake with the dawn, go to bed at sunset. There is something satisfying about this from a biorythmical standpoint, and it saves a great deal of juice. Another benefit of going to bed early is you watch a lot less television. We thought we’d watch movies regularly. Instead, we’ve been traveling for seven months and have watched a mere handful.

Plan the Refrigerator - We still haven’t mastered Ninja Refrigerator Stowage, but done correctly you can substantially reduce consumption. Organize the fridge so that the things you need are in the front, easy to get to. Meals are grouped on back shelves. True ninjas can actually restrict opening the fridge to a three times a day activity, once for each meal. We know of one family that has it down to once a day. I dream of this capacity for advanced thinking.

So, now you. Boaters, tell me how to save more power. We had reached that enviable state where we could live on the hook for nearly a week, but as we dropped to warmer latitudes, the increased power to fridge and freeze tipped us over into running the engine every third day. Help me out!
Time For Bed
Time For Bed
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Kid Party

Kid Party
Kid Party
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
It’s fair to say that we planned this party for nearly two years. My earliest recollections of family conversations about cruising in Mexico involved staging a party for the kids on the Baja Ha Ha. The Ha Ha promised many boats, many crews, many kids. The Ha Ha was in Mexico where the water would be warm, the air soft, and the sun strong and dangerous. As a family, we developed a vision of Don Quixote as a gathering place for Ha Ha families.

And the boat was loaded with this party in mind. We arrived in Bahia Santa Maria -- the anchorage between Leg 2 and Leg 3 of the Baja Ha Ha -- with everything a boat needs to throw a really good kid party. For Solstice last year, DrC made a slide out of plywood. The slide is rough on one side to serve as a gangplank and smooth with beer labels and hard varnish on the other. Strapped to the starboard transom, it serves as a chute. Pour a bucket of sea water and ZOOM down the side of the boat. In Emeryville, Aeron worked with Jason to figure out way to use the spinnaker halyard as a swing. They worked out a system to drop the lazy jacks and jib lines, and leap off into the air to swing around the front half of the boat. Nearly two winters ago, we purchased a floating island at Costco. In San Diego, we stocked up on munchies, chips, trail mix, and cheap red wine. We packed kid movies, popcorn, and spare towels.

So we were ready our first morning in Bahia Santa Maria to get on the VHF during announcements.

Toast: Don Quixote.
Poohbah: Don Quixote go ahead.
Toast: Don Quixote would like to invite all kids of the Ha Ha fleet to our boat for the evening. The Don Quixote Water Park will open at four PM. Parents can either drop their offspring or relax with us in the cockpit while the kids swim and then watch movies.
Poohbah: Don Quixote, are you saying you want all the kids? That’s great! Where’s your boat?
Toast: We’re at the back of the fleet. We crept in last night at about 3 am.
Poohbah: How about you move your boat over near us. There’s plenty of room for another catamaran.
Toast: Will do.
Poohbah: Okay, that’s Don Quixote for the Kid Party, Corenthia for Texas Hold ‘Em at 7:00pm, and Amani for the musicians in the fleet. All three catamarans will be over near Profligate tonight. Any questions?
Third Day: Don Quixote, should we bring anything to the party?
Toast: Third Day, I think the kids should start learning the cruising rule of bringing something to any gathering. We welcome shnick shnacks and finger foods, but no worries. We have plenty!

The kids actually started arriving about two in the afternoon. We had everything set up and the girls were already jumping off the bow. Parents dropped the kids off early and went back to their boats for a few hours of rest and clean up. They rejoined Don Quixote and their off spring at dusk. We had children everywhere. They were jumping off the bows, swimming between the hulls, sliding down the tramps, screaming in the island. The adults used the salon until the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped. We then moved children on to every flat surface in the salon and turned on a movie. Parents retreated to the cockpit for wine and the exchange of shared experiences. At one point, I counted 32 people tucked into various nooks and corners on our boat. We were probably well below our water line, but it felt wonderful.

Third Day and Calou. Bay Wolf, Leo Scotia, Odessa Mama and Sirius Star. These boats, their crews, their profile are now so familiar to me that I can spot one from three miles away as we approach an anchorage. I know their voices on the VHF, the personalities of their children, and their politics. But on that first night in Bahia Santa Maria, it was all very new. The families we met that night are the beginning of a small core of boats with whom we will spend many hours and share many experiences over the coming winter.

And we are so lucky. These are wonderful, fascinating people. Possibly, the reason it is so easy to spend time with them is that what we share is so much greater than our differences in background, economics, and education. We are all here; We have brought our children to a life that is so different from the norm for almost identical reasons. We all share a goal to make this experience a defining one for our kids and ourselves. We have sacrificed our careers, alienated family members, and fully intend to go stone cold broke in the coming months and years. We could literally be from anywhere, and I believe we would still enjoy each other’s company.

Everyone wound down after the movie ended, the dinghies disappearing into the background twinkle of the fleet anchorage. The party was everything we had ever hoped it would be. Two years of planning and six hours of perfect realization of our cruising dream.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

TechTip - Water Sweet As Wine

Our Water Maker
Our Water Maker
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.

Short Answer: Make your own water maker. It’s cheaper, it makes more water, and you’ll know how to fix it without a high-priced mechanic.

Long Story: DrC just finished making our water maker. We downloaded the plan off the Internet a few years ago. I understand you can now pay to download this plan. I recommend it highly. We’ve met three boats to date who successfully followed the instructions to build and maintain a high-volume water maker. Now we are the fourth who can make the case for a home built job.

In the interest of fair disclosure, building your own water maker is not for the faint of heart. It took a long time and a lot of hard work. It is also not exactly cheap. The parts for our water maker totaled just under two boat bucks. DrC estimates it took him roughly 50 hours of work effort from start to finish not including what felt like 100s of trips to the hardware store. He does recommend that you build your water maker before you leave the dock. The critical tool is apparently a car to get to a really good hardware store. The most expensive parts are the filter, the pressure vessel, and the pump. The pressure regulator and clutch can also run you some change. You’ll also need space for the installation (~1.5 cubic feet), a thru hull or T off an existing raw water intake, and hydraulic hose to get the water to your tank.

Proud Papa
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
There are two major advantages to building your own water maker: price to output ratio and maintenance. Even two thousand dollars is cheap for a water maker that puts out thirty gallons an hour. A comparable volume Spectra will run you at least $4,000. For roughly another ~$400 we could double our output to 60 gal/hour with a second filter. We’re considering it, but we’re going to wait until we live with what we have for awhile. Also, we hear folks on the cruiser nets almost daily asking about how to get maintenance for their water makers. There is something of a black box feeling for these devices down here. However, all the boats with hand built jobs tell stories about how a trip to the hardware store solved this problem or that. When you build it yourself you know how to fix it; It’s that simple.

Yesterday, we stood on the deck passing around a glass of clear, clean water. The entire family was grinning like loons. The water tasted like ambrosia after all the effort DrC had put in. So maybe a third advantage of DIY water makers is the sweet taste of accomplishment.