Slow Sailing

03 November 2018 | Thetford, VT
21 September 2018 | Bradford, VT
13 August 2018 | Thetford, VT
02 August 2018 | Thetford, VT
13 July 2018 | Thetford, VT
12 June 2018 | Hurricane Boatyard, Bayboro NC
29 May 2018 | Cumberland Island, Georgia
14 May 2018 | Vero Beach, FL
29 April 2018 | Dragon Point, Melbourne
02 April 2018 | Chub Cay, Berry Islands
24 March 2018 | Farmers Cay, Bahamas
12 March 2018 | Grand Turk
28 February 2018 | Culebra, Spanish Virgins
21 February 2018 | St John
01 February 2018 | St Pierre, Martinique
17 January 2018 | Marin Marina, Martinique
08 January 2018 | Fort de France, Martinique
01 January 2018 | Atlantic - Still!
26 December 2017 | Atlantic Ocean
19 December 2017 | Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde

In The Bubble

03 November 2018 | Thetford, VT
Heather
Here's an update from us after weeks of nothing!

The custom designed composite FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) RV habitat that we ordered a few months ago finally arrived on October 19th. We have been flat out since then working to get it assembled in dwindling temps and buckets of rain most days here in Vermont. The Fall was pretty but wet. We managed a couple more bike rides with my mom and one more Adirondack hiking weekend with Joe & Suzen. Since then we've had some really stressful days but all is going pretty well and it feels like things are coming together, no pun intended.
Fall 001
Before it arrived, we hustled around getting everything ready. This included moving the truck into the space that we rented from a couple of my old classmates, Darren & Pat. They have a Quonset hut in N Thetford that is nearly perfect for our project and they have been so gracious in letting us use it. We packed up the summer camp we'd established on our land when most of the autumn leaves had fallen and even Jon was a little sad to see it all end. Despite lots of work this summer on the truck, the setting was beautiful and I was so glad to get to spend time in our little camper. We'll most likely put it up for sale next Spring so someone else can use it. Meanwhile, we are enjoying staying with my parents now and sharing a lot of meals together and fun evenings. They have been very patient & supportive of our endeavor despite all the drama. We'll be headed down to our boat in the next couple of weeks.
Fall 004
Moving the truck into our new space allowed us to keep working on it despite the rain and we set up a bubble of plastic that could shroud the camper box in anticipation of cold temps and the need to heat it for adhesives to cure. While waiting for the box to arrive, Jon welded on a rail that encircles the subframe to further support the habitat as well as provide a mounting point for understorage boxes that he intends to build this winter. He also ran new cabling for the batteries, we carpeted the interior of the truck cab (I now know that the carpet is where the new car smell comes from!) and I cut out new rubber mats to protect the carpet. We moved a pile of tools in and purchased more to aid in the build of the box. There is a lot of thought that needs to go in to bracing each piece as you assemble it in order for the panels to cure in the right position. Because we didn't want our camper to look too square, Jon designed in a lot of angled corners to soften the edges of the exterior and give us a little more space inside as well. The manufacturer doesn't supply extrusions for these angled corners so that meant that we needed to fabricate a dozen 8 ft sections ourselves. We decided to make these out of fiberglass, which took 11 gallons of resin and several days of work laying on the glass. Mixed in 3/4 cup batches, I mixed I don't even know how many batches about 3 minutes apart and together, we layed up all 12 of the profiles. We then filled and sanded out as many imperfections as we could (I never dreamed I would know so much about Bondo) and Jon sprayed them with matching paint for the truck but it was just too cold and humid for the paint to come out right. So what do you do? You sand it all off again! Now we are going to just install the profiles and paint them once we are south. I plan to brush on a 2 part yacht paint.
Joe & Suzen Adirondacks 002
Fall 005
Box arrival 015
We installed 10 spring mounts to the subframe that will help stabilize it on the chassis once the box is on and we are moving around. Jon did all the brain work & difficult bracing of the nuts but it is a 2 person job so I became the one operating the air impact wrench. It definitely sounded like a mechanic shop in there!
Box arrival 001
The way it works with Total Composites is your order goes into your own sea container. This container is shipped from China and then trucked to your address and you unload it within 2 hours. A week before the ship arrived we got another invoice from Total Composites with an additional 10% tariff that went into effect September 27th, making it 16% in all. Thank you trump! I don't know who this is helping but it isn't us.When the ship arrived in Boston we got a call that the trucking company they'd arranged wouldn't deliver to a residential address (this was all arranged previously) so there was a period of scrambling to find a trucking company that would. This delayed things a few more days and gave us a few sleepless nights. My sister Ann arrived for a family visit just in time for the truck to arrive carrying our camper box. It felt so funny to have such a huge truck come to deliver our container. Needless to say, after she and my family helped us unload the truck, we would only get together in the evenings for the entire time she was here because we started doing very long days at the shed getting this thing going at last. We did manage to celebrate the 3 October birthdays, Jon, Ann and my dad. Jon turned 50 and I haven't heard much complaining from him so I guess I'll have a go at it in February.

The habitat dimensions are 17 feet long by 8 ft wide and 7 ft tall. The panels are relatively lightweight but well insulated & strong with 2 inch foam on the 2 long sidewalls and 3 inches on the floor, ceiling, front & back wall. The floor & stern wall are reinforced with wood & steel making them both bulky and heavy whereas the side panels are bulky, fragile but not overly heavy. And so we began gently muscling these panels around. We bought 2 dollies at Harbor Freight and we keep remarking that these are the most valuable things we've bought for the build. It amazes me the things we've been able to do just the 2 of us with these dollies. And when we couldn't manage something ourselves such as turning the heavy floor once we'd successfully jacked & slid it both up onto the subframe to mark the bolt holes and then back down off of it again, we called up Darren & Pat to come give us a hand. It is so hard to be in a position where you're stopped from any more progress because you simply cannot lift & position something without the help of others. On those days, the absolute highlight was seeing them show up and make it look like nothing to heave those panels around so we could get back to work. We are very thankful for them.
Box arrival 004
We started with the floor. After we marked out 58 bolt holes, Jon had to drill them all out on the underside of the floor through the steel. It got to where I would push on his shoulder blades with most of my strength while he was drilling so that he didn't have to press as hard himself. His shoulder hasn't recovered but I think his right arm is bigger than his left! Once the holes were drilled, we rolled the floor into the bubble on the dollies and jacked it up onto pallets. Then we started glueing on the extrusions and up went the side panels. You use a lot of adhesive in large sausage tubes and once you start, you have to be speedy so it won't start to cure while you're working with it. Much care is needed to line everything up perfectly so that all the pieces will mate together and then brace everything so it stays where you put it. We run propane heaters to keep the temp up and every time one or the other of us goes back to refill another tank the guy says "you blew through all that already?!" I think he gets it now.
Box arrival 019
Several days into the assembly Jon went to install a cargo door in some down time and discovered that the hole wasn't cut properly. The radius was incorrect and you could see light through each corner when holding the window up. This is a little unfortunate because he has the most perfect interior all planned out for us and the only solution is to install a larger door now. So a new door is being sent by Total Composites but the interior design will have to be adjusted to accommodate it. We continue prepping panels, cutting extrusions to size, applying adhesive, raising the various wall pieces and adjusting the sizes and shapes of the bracing. There is so much to do. As the pile of extrusions started to dwindle and the box is taking more shape, we discover that we are missing an integral piece that we need to install the the back wall. It is the only piece of that size & shape so there is no mistaking that we didn't get it. Before the box arrived I had requested a packing list so that we could check off everything that was in sea container to be sure it was all there. However we were told that we didn't need one so it was very hard to visualize every piece that would be needed. Not to mention, when the box arrived there had been a misunderstanding. All of the aforementioned angled pieces that we had to make the dozen profiles for were not cut on the panels. The factory only cuts 90 degree corners. So Jon had to cut all of these himself and make the angles perfect so that the box would go together which worked out fine but initially it was a shocker and it did cause a lot more work. It also makes a big mess. This gave us a few more ulcers. The missing part causes another delay as no matter what, it will take time to get it. Every day that we don't have it the temps are lowering and it will be more & more difficult to bring the temp up with propane heaters to what it needs to be to for the adhesive to cure. But we will manage it. Not to mention, we need to get back to N Carolina to paint our boat and set up our winter home down there. Oh, and find a workshop to fit out the interior too!

After tons of research, Jon decided that we will use lithium batteries for all of their advantages, not the least of which is being lightweight and taking up much less space. While the habitat feels big right now with no bulkheads in, it is still a small space to live in and we have a lot of stuff to store in it so every inch matters. We received the batteries the other day and they look really nice, nothing like the wet cells we heave around on the boat. Seems promising.
Box coming together 005
Box coming together 006
We finished installing the windows today, will do the door tomorrow and this all feels good. The boxes are dwindling and there is more space around. The windows & doors are from a company called Tern Overland in Arizona and they're nicely made. Nice people to work with. They have built in screens & shades. While there are negatives to having lots of windows such as security, we both felt we wanted as much air & light as possible especially given our boating lifestyle with so much outdoor time. I'm really excited about them and think Jon has designed a wonderful home! Its hard to get a full pic of the profile of the box we've built because of the confines of the bubble. We've taken to eating our lunch in there to stay in the warmth of it. We have a few more hurdles to jump over such as moving the habitat onto the truck once completed and bolting it down but it is all a process and we are moving through the details. Everything has to proceed in steps so one thing hinges on the other. But for now, nothing major can really proceed until we get the missing piece and no one cares as much as we do about it so we have to wait it out. It will be good to get down to the boat and settled in and then hopefully only have to count on ourselves for a bit as we get rolling on the interior. Its easier and less stressful. I bought a bedspread the other day because all its been is wood, bondo, resin, tools and adhesive for so long. I can't wait for the first night we can sleep under it. It will mean that this project will be pretty much done!
Groton bike path 002
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Joe & Suzen Adirondacks 055

A Truck Update and Getting Through Florence

21 September 2018 | Bradford, VT
Heather
This blog has gotten away from me again but there's been a lot happening. To everyone who was worried about us & Evergreen getting through Florence, thanks for your concern & support. We feel very, very fortunate that the storm weakened & turned slightly away from the direct hit that was predicted. It saved us and many others. We've come up with yet another great weight loss plan. It's trying to get down to your stored boat in time for a hurricane, prepping it, reluctantly leaving it for a hotel and then waiting out the storm not knowing.

But backing up a month..... I wrote this almost 2 weeks ago before we knew about the storm.

More than once this summer I've wondered why we gave up this
Stocking Island 006

to saddle ourselves with a DIY RV build that requires a whole lot of work like this!
Rail trail & truck 008
We always have dirt or paint under our fingernails and some body part that is aching.
Bringing to Fire truck home 008

If we were to divide this project into 5 parts, part one was hatching the plan, figuring out which type of truck to get and then zeroing in on one to buy. It also included picking up the truck from the port in Georgia and getting the firebox off the back in Florida, and a rough subframe that would eventually support a fiberglass habitat box. Then driving it up to Vermont for the summer to work on it. Phase 2 was designing the camper box (all credit to Jon) and getting it ordered from Total Composites (a company located in BC, Canada), stripping out the interior and redoing it, painting the cab from red to white, continuing the work on the subframe to shape it, cleaning & painting the chassis, doing the single rear wheel conversion with replacement larger tires and doing a few hundred other things to the chassis. Well, we are nearly done with phase two.
Shocks 016

The tire conversion was easy, since this was something we couldn't do and needed to hand off to the tire shop. Of course because the rims are so heavy, we needed to rent a U-haul trailer to take them to the tire shop. We got General Tire Grabbers which are a bigger, taller, offroad tire that takes us from 55mph on the highway to 63 for the same RPM and they are quieter and smoother, plus the truck is now higher. We were getting 12.6 mpg before this change & perhaps whatever improvement there is will help offset the weight of the completed habitat box. Not that I needed to climb up any higher to get in & out of it! It feels nice that the new rims which were once on the ship from Germany and then on the back of the truck for the drive up here from Baltimore are now installed and the lugnuts and covers all sanded & painted. And we only have 4 wheels now! You can see the difference in the tire size in this photo.
IMG_20180827_115658942_HDR


The rear shocks have been replaced and we had new link plates and bushings fabricated to help them fit properly. We got new side view mirrors because one of the old ones had apparently gotten too close to the fire (they were melted) and we wanted the little insert mirrors to help fill in the blind spot. These are also heated so that they'll stay clear in cold weather. We finished compounding and waxing the truck cab from our mediocre paint job. The new seats are in and look spiffy with the gray and black interior color scheme and they smell good too! It only took about 5 times of in and out to get them all situated in their bolt hole spots. The job we did on the headliner was not to our liking but we were going to put up with it. It was a little wavy with wrinkles. But then when we were installing the sun visor screws, the drill caught the headliner material and within a flash, there was a big mousehole chewed out of the fabric as it wrapped around the drill. Well that, we couldn't figure out how to fix and there was no way we could live with it so we took the headliner back out and drove it down to Keene, NH to have the "professionals" do it. It is now reinstalled and much better although we can see how tough a job it was since even they got a couple of wrinkles. Since this was a fire truck, there was no stereo or speakers so Jon fabricated some fiberglass & carbon fiber door pockets that hold a set of speakers and I painted the door cards. I have done more painting this summer than in my whole life. The stereo is also the navigation system, rear & dash camera and in cab computer.
Shocks 012
Rail trail & truck 010
Rail trail & truck 016
Latest truck and White Mtns 001
We've done some nice bike rides & walks with my parents the past few weeks and have checked out some new rail trails. They have their own feel, but you can't beat riding without traffic through a corridor of green.

We took the truck down to Osgood Fabrication in NH to get a few things done in prep for the habitat box, which we now have a delivery date for of October 5th. Much later than we expected but I guess China is a long way away! Because we were getting concerned about the lateness of the box delivery and how cold it might be in Newport, VT at that date, we looked around for a place closer to Thetford where we have spent the summer and found a quonset hut owned by a former classmate of mine that we have arranged to use for October. It is big enough to pull the whole truck into and then put together the box beside it so that all is under cover out of the weather. Phase 3 is getting this box put together and on the truck. At that point, it will have become an overland camper with an empty interior... enter phase 4! We will fit out the interior over the winter in NC, while we are back living on Evergreen (thankfully!). We envision phase 5 will be making the underframe storage boxes, tying up loose ends and sorting out anything we've missed.
Hurricane Florence 006
Latest truck and White Mtns 006
Latest truck and White Mtns 002
After dropping off the truck and free of any guilt of not working on it, we quick put the Scamp camper on the hitch and skipped off to the NH Whites Mtns for a getaway in the Presidentials. We biked & hiked for a few days, one of which included the peaks of Mt Adams, Madison and Jefferson and another of Lafayette, Haystack & Lincoln. It felt great to be on the trails in alpine terrain on 2 beautiful, warm, windless days. Then we stayed low on 2 days and biked instead, getting drenched on one & freezing in the wind on the other. The season is transitioning.
Latest truck and White Mtns 008

On Sunday, after a great hike, we were driving back and heard the hurricane was coming, literally making a beeline for our boatyard. We have a habit of tuning out the news day to day since we can't take it. Problem was the truck was at the fabricator and all of the windows & doors for the RV were arriving on a Fedex truck from California in 2 days. So Monday morning was a scramble to get things put on hold and then we started driving down to NC to take care of our boat. When we got to Bayboro, NC the next day, the forecast was still looking grim. Prepping Evergreen felt so hopeless. We have a lot of years and memories tied up in this boat and it hurts to think some harm could come to it that we can't control or participate in helping to avoid since we weren't in the water. The predictions were for 18 feet of storm surge at which point the entire boatyard would become invisible and all the boats would float off their stands and become a mass of moving fiberglass. I envisioned every dread scenario many times over in the coming days. We did all we could to reduce windage and seal it up with tape in case it did fall over, maybe we could keep the water out until it could float upright again....

Then we reluctantly left for a hotel in Raleigh for 3 nights to wait & worry while the storm passed. We felt very anxious. The boat means a lot to us, it is beautifully built by so many hands and it has taken us to so many incredible places. It's been our only home for 18 years and it would be terrible to have a hurricane snuff the life out of it. Uhh!

But somehow, as these unpredictable storms do, we were spared the worst of it. By weakening and turning slightly south, we came out just fine. The surge was about 7 feet, which Jon predicted at about 8 feet things would start to get iffy. Not a drop of water entered the boat despite huge amounts of rain. The flooding loosened our stands and floated 3 boats off theirs, littered the marina with debris and the wind tore up the trees and deposited many leaves & twigs on our deck but that was it. It was another sailboat, Freya, who spent the storm anchored out in front of the marina since they couldn't get hauled in time that came in and shot some video of the boats. That was how on Friday night, we could see our boat still standing there, OK. By the time we could get through on the roads on Saturday, the flood waters had receded a lot and most roads were open near us. All of the devastating flooding happened a little further south of us in New Bern. So sad. I95 was closed at our exit heading south but to the north was clear.

Exhausted, we celebrated still having our boats with long time friends Frank & Deb, who live in the next town over, where we plan to spend the winter. Frank admits he was freaking out too and we both vow to try to get the heck outta there if another storm threatens since none of us want to go through that kind of angst ever again. I hope, hope, we never have to.
Hurricane Florence 012
We tidied up Evergreen and tucked it in once again before getting back on the road to head back up to Vermont to do Phase 3 of the RV and hopefully do some fun things this Fall, our first in years. We are both looking forward to returning to our floating home though for the winter. There is so much to do to get it all painted and waxed and all the gear back on before we can put it in the water. It'll feel luxurious compared to the scamp camper and I'm missing my galley really bad. I can give Evergreen some TLC while Jon fits out the interior of the RV. One thing is, we've got our work cut out for us. It can't be done fast enough.

All About the Truck

13 August 2018 | Thetford, VT
Heather
If you aren't in to truck refurbs or custom RV's our lives would seem pretty boring right now because they are wrapped around this project pretty tightly these days without many interludes.
Have you ever really studied the interior of your car from the headliner to all the little pieces & parts that make up the dash and side door coverings? It seems so perfectly fitted. It isn't to be taken for granted. After several days of affixing Rattle Trap top quality sound deadening material (we felt we needed the best there was!), we started putting the interior parts back in. Not easy! After Jon got me started, I did most of the sound deadening which involves fitting & cutting sticky back rubbery material to most of the interior and then using a special roller to flatten each piece out so that its tightly bonded. We ordered 2 big rolls of it and had just barely enough to cover. After prepping the headliner and rear panels for vinyl and headliner material, we sprayed on contact cement and then Jon tried to smooth out the fabric on the panels without wrinkles while I held the material up. This whole thing is very hard to do! It took over 4 hours yesterday for the rear panel and the best we can say is we did it ourselves! We got some wrinkles.... But it still looks nice and it is installed now. The headliner material looks spiffy too. Parts of the dash are in and there's more ready to go. So many little pieces.
latest truck progress 024
truck interior 002
latest truck progress 031

The fuel tank is now fitted and Jon added a secondary fuel filter. We still intend to get another 50 gallon or so tank but are not in a rush as there are other priorities. The fenders, flaps and steps are painted and reinstalled. We got a new tailpipe and painted up the heat shield on the muffler. I've been working on prepping and painting the parts of the chassis, mainly the undersides of things, that couldn't be gotten with the dustless blaster which is a real pain because part of why this truck has very little rust is because it was undercoated with a thick, waxy substance that is difficult to remove.
latest truck progress 033
latest truck progress 021
latest truck progress 022
Jon has now entered the world of welding. He welded up some new plates for the fender holders that were rusted out. I think he looks really tall in his helmet. He said he thinks it is either the fact that he has to run the welder off our generator or the reality that he is brand new to welding that makes his welds a little rougher than he wants but they are holding up the mud flaps now and seem up to the task. I'm sure he'll get a lot more experience before this is all over.
latest truck progress 029
We dropped off the new shocks for bushings to fit the truck, are having new sway bar fittings fabricated and the truck seats should be in this week. Jon even found a license plate converter to fit USA plates because the truck was set up for European ones. The holes& backing plates are drilled for a front overhead roof rack that is in the planning stages. It will hold a set of driving lights and be able to accommodate some roof gear if we need it. Jon hopes to finish getting the new hose run for the fuel system this week so that we can get the truck running again to position it under the subframe. It would be nice to get that back on.
Pictures-01
Pictures-02
Got an update on the fabrication of the fiberglass CNC cut panels for the Total Composites camper box and here are a couple of pics. The box is being made in China and is almost ready for shipment. Apparently, it will ship to LA then be put on a train to perhaps Albany, NY where we'll pick it up with our truck. We have to iron out those details this week. We're pretty excited for the box, Jon especially since he designed the whole thing. Hopefully it'll be as he drew it.
IMG_4329
We took a day off from truck stuff and painted all of the eves on my parents' house. Now they're as white as our truck! It's been fun spending time with my parents and getting a homemade dessert fix since we have no oven in the camper and I miss by boat galley.
IMG_4326
And Jon is getting to meet some of my high school classmates. Its looking really good to rent a building here in Thetford from a classmate Darren that would work beautifully for putting the camper box together, we caught up with Jessie & her family, met up with Cory at a firemen's BBQ, and hung out with old friends Becky & Mike over a campfire at our Bradford compound. I just can't believe its been 30 years but then again, we haven't spent this much time in this area in all those years either. All good fun and a welcome distraction from hovering over the truck.
Campfire with Becky and Mike 004
We've also discovered some decent bike loops in our area. There are plenty of offroad tracks that make for quiet trails and we've found that a ride first thing in the morning while the dew is drying helps us stretch out without making us too tired to put in a full day of projects. Its very hilly around here though and our driveway is one of the steepest ones! Anyway, it keeps my head on straight. For now.

A bear has visited our Scamp camper when we weren't home and left her muddy paw prints on our door. Haven't seen hide nor hair since but there's still time!

I guess I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
latest truck progress 026


Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Extra:
Over the years, we've explored much of the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic East coast on 3 different long term trips. In January 2012, we left the USA and headed for the Pacific. We visited the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Samoa, Cook Islands & Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We've enjoyed thousands [...]
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