Loading the boat (part 1)

Tue 2 Feb 2010 22:50
Today we started loading the boat. A lot of stuff was already on the boat – sails and tools and all that sort of thing. But today we loaded things like blankets and pillows. We put the new safety tethers and harnesses in their storage box under a cockpit bench, along with the life vests. We loaded some of the dry food items that can freeze without exploding – a box of ramen, a case of corn chips, 20 lbs of almonds, 20 lbs of granola, pasta, cranberries (to stave off the scurvy), what seems like hundreds of breakfast bars, and a lot more.

Down the hatch!

The pile of food in the house still waiting to go aboard is about 4 feet by 4 feet by 3 feet high. We still have about 60 large jars of soups and stews and meat that we canned ourselves, all waiting to go into the car just before departure, plus numerous plastic bins full of one thing or another. I’m not sure where it will all go, but we’ll puzzle it out. We have a storage area underneath the girls’ bunk forward, about 18” x 48” x 10” deep. And there’s also a water ballast tank up there, used to trim the boat fore and aft (i.e. to keep the bow down). So we plan to leave the 300 lbs. of water out of the tank – sail with it empty – and place about three hundred pounds of our heaviest items up in the cargo area – jars of stew and containers of Parmalat. The rest of the heavy stuff will go in the aisle between the two main ballast tanks in the main cabin. That will add stability to the boat. Then we’ll push all the lighter items out toward the ends of the boat. There is a lot of storage space below the cockpit, and a good amount up in the bow.

I asked the designer of this boat, Jim Michalak (jimsboats.com, or http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/jim/michalak.htm), how much the boat might sink -- or, IF the boat might sink -- with all this extra load placed in her. He did some calculations and said, “About 1 inch of immersion for every 700 lbs. of load.” That was very reassuring. We may bring 700 lbs. of food and gear, but if you subtract out the empty ballast tank, we’re only carrying an extra 400 lbs over our normal cruising weight, immersing the hull just an extra 5/8-inch. That shouldn’t affect performance too much.

We’re trying to eliminate as much packaging as possible, so that as we use our food we don’t wind up with a boat full of trash. Trash is actually hard to dispose of in the Bahamas; you often have to pay $5 per bag to get rid of it. So we’re emptying dozens of little mac & cheese boxes into one huge ziploc bag. We can scoop it out with a measuring cup as we need it. We’re discarding all cereal box cardboard and packing only the inner plastic bags, placing those in our large food bins. Anything that can be packed in bulk in a ziploc bag is having its box thrown away.

We started loading books, which amount to a whole ballast system all themselves. More on those later. . . .

As I went back and forth to the boat, climbing up into the cockpit and down into the cabin over and over, stowing things and trying to maximize use of the small space, I got this quivery-all-over feeling – excitement and anticipation mixed with intense focus, sort of the way I used to feel before running a 1500m race back in my high school days.

Well, we’re getting close now. Less than two weeks to go.