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05 November 2010 @ 02:30 pm
blustery cold front out on the water  
I am writing this at about 1:30 PM Friday, November 5th while deliberately anchored out in very wide open water. I am learning how well this boat can do in such an environment on a very windy day. It is about the windiest it can be outside of a thunderstorm -one of those very bright extremely breezy days just after a strong cold front passes.

In this case, that front came through last night, and I survived the rain and frontal gusts just fine.

Until Tuesday though the weather hadn't really changed at all since sometime in early summer before I got here. In fact, Tuesday, November 2nd was the first cloudy day here since I arrived over three months ago in late July!:

October was slightly cooler than normal, but it was also the driest October this area ever had.

Further, I have concluded that for at least the warmest half of the year, whenever it is a sunny day, it will always be five to seven degrees hotter in late afternoon out here on this boat than at the weather stations on land. So even though October was about a degree cooler than normal on land, the whole month still felt like July to me.

Besides the lack of shade, there are two other reasons for this afternoon heat on sunny days -the mirror-like water reflects extra sunrays toward the boat, and the almost black bottom of the waterways absorbs lots of solar radiation.

I just wear my swim trunks every day and keep wet all afternoon by constantly splashing myself with water so the heat never bothers me.

But back to now, after everything changed on Tuesday: I am in winter clothes with a jacket and hat on, and it is only in the lower sixties. (It is so windy that the heat can't build up out here even though the sky is cloudless.)

This experiment really is pretty scary even though it is going well. It sounds like a hurricane is passing! But the four anchors I dropped are holding and the ropes aren't straining and nothing is ready to break or bend, and the boat is very stable even though there is lots of chop out on the water.

I am learning a tremendous amount of specific information to complement my knowledge about wind force loads and anchoring, which was all just theoretical until now.

If anything needs strengthening after this experiment, I will do that.

It is so hard to anchor here because the bottom has no rocks or sand or logs or anything else to prevent anchors from dragging. But on the other hand, if the anchors don't hold, the worst that would happen is the boat would drift until it is pushed in against all the water weeds, which act as a cushion along all the shores, so there is no worry about grounding, or hitting trees, rocks or banks which would be concerns elsewhere.

Now about everything else...

First of all, my trip to Ohio and back, which I returned from a week ago, was a success even though it was horrible. It was horrible because I came down with food poisoning or the flu or something on the first day of the six-day trip. I didn't feel OK again until early this week.

To those I visited during the trip, I apologize for being not much fun to be around because I felt so awful.

The only thing I wanted to bring back that I could not fit in my car was my little motorized folding bike.

But the Porta-Bote is with me here now tied behind the houseboat, and the 6HP motor is running great. And I am even more pleased than I expected with how the little green tender boat performs with the 2HP gas motor I brought back. I measured a top speed of 8.2 miles per hour which is amazing for such a tiny engine.

I may just always drag both smaller boats around with me everywhere, because I only travel when it's not windy, and all the big boat energy is free anyway because it's solar.

After over three months, I still spend almost all my waking hours every day either improving the boat and it's furnishings, or designing more improvements.

The small changes just since I got back from Ohio would fill pages if I described them all. My brain aches at the end of each day like it used to when I was an engineering student in college.

The coolest thing I just finished this week is the "all-around light", which is necessary so I am visible in the middle of the night when anchored. I modified a Wal-Mart 2-watt LED camping lantern to make it, and it uses less than a watt but is very bright.

The boat is excellent as it is now -with 10-foot by 12-foot roof, insulated shelter as cabin, and screen porch.

So I've decided to keep this permanent, even for next summer.

I will paint the cabin silver instead of the dark brown it now is, so it will stay cool by reflecting the sunlight next summer.

And this means I no longer need the four wide white blinds. (I just took them down.)

I will put some nice silver trim around the now somewhat uneven edges of the top (rain) roof.

The space between the silver rain roof and the insulated shelter (cabin) roof will be a very large flat (8-inch high) storage space, which will be painted to appear as a recessed white band beneath the rain roof.

And to finish the look of alternating white and silver horizontal bands, I will paint the wood deck sides white but leave the pale gray plastic trim unpainted.

So, to see the boat for the last time as it looked the middle of this week, go to the new gallery of pictures I took since returning from Ohio:

pictures through November 4th, 2010

Also note the picture of the new all-around light.

Besides boat, boat, and more boat all day every day, I haven't been doing much else, except monitoring the price of silver, which keeps going higher, and is now over five times what it was when I bought most of mine.

Ghost is still doing well and he loves the scratching pad I bought him on Wednesday.