Sunday, July 1, 2018

Introducing "Mouse" and "Pumpkin II"

What were the biggest adjustments moving aboard after living on land? Well, certainly a major one was the drastic difference in square footage. We could take about 1/20 of our land-based possessions, and none of our furniture. We sought digital books except for reference books, scanned photos, ripped CDs, and converted recipe cards to tidy computer files. We prioritized what would come with us: first safety, then tools, then "everything else." And that "everything" had to fit in the equivalent of your kitchen cabinets -- not just pots and pans and food, but backpacks and winter sweaters and screwdrivers and blankets and hiking boots and beach towels -- so the downsizing was extreme.

Another big adjustment was -- it moves! That implied both that we could never set anything down unattended on a flat surface; an errant wave could dump your coffee cup in your lap. It also meant our freedom, as we could explore the world without ever leaving the comforts of home, because we traveled like a turtle and brought our home with us. (Also like a turtle as, laden with everything we own, we don't exactly sail fast.)

Past those two, the biggest adjustment involved no longer being connected to the limitless conveniences of life on land, like infinite water and power. If we're at sea, or anchored out, the water and fuel we brought with us is all we have until we make our next port. We might get lucky with a rainstorm to top up our fuel tanks, but the gasoline we brought with us for the dinghy is all we have until we're back in civilization.

And limited, not-so-environmentally-friendly fuel wasn't the only problem with the dinghy's propulsion. Add a bigger, heavier outboard than we would have preferred, and we began thinking about options. You've already learned of the crazy string of small world coincidences that led to our new-to-us folding dinghy to replace the inflatable. The existing 9.8 hp motor, weighing about 90 pounds, was massively oversized to be usable on the light and nimble folding boat.

I jokingly told my friends that we had equipped the new folding dinghy (now nicknamed "Pumpkin II") with a "reliable two-stroke engine." And it does row easily. Oars never need fuel and remind us of good times with our old rowing dinghy in Michigan. And for the times that rowing is not quite going to be enough?

Meet "Mouse," named for the mice that became horses and footmen for Cinderella's pumpkin-turned-coach. Like those mice, our "Mouse" is small and gray and slightly magical. Mouse is an electric Torqeedo motor that pairs perfectly with the new dinghy. Electric means that we won't have any further issues with ethanol in gasoline when we travel north or to places with unreliable fuel, or fuel at all, ever, really. We can charge its lithium batteries with our solar panels, doesn't get to be much more of a renewable resource than that!

We can set up or collapse the folding dinghy on the bow of Cinderella; here's a sequence of pictures showing the process, which took one person about 10 minutes. As fast or faster than pumping up an inflatable.

Here's the dinghy on the foredeck. We lift it up using a spinnaker halyard on the anchor windlass, but honestly, it's just not that heavy; we could do it by hand if we needed to.

Taking out the bolts holding the front seat in place. We replaced regular nuts with wing nuts to make the process quicker.

Front seat removed.

The 3 supports under the seat are hinged so it folds flat for storage.

Now the aft seat is coming out.

Unbolting the transom.

Lifting out the transom.

Beginning to fold the side down.

Starboard side folded down.

Fold the port side down, then fold the boat in half!

And there it is. Folded down, we can tie it to the side rail. No davits, nothing hanging outside Cinderella's footprint, and no deck clutter.

And neatly stowed on the side!

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