This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Sunday 24 December 2023

Merry Christmas Everyone

So the big day is upon us again. Benno and I wish all our family, friends and blog readers a joyful Christmas! This year with the absence of snow and mild temperatures in our area it feels more like springtime. We like it as it means no salt or slush on the roads to mess up the truck. As you might have speculated, our departure for the trip out west is imminent. We are looking at the weather forecasts in the various states we are traveling through to see if there are conditions we have to be concerned about, but are fairly optimistic so far. So hopefully all will be well.

These past few weeks since my last update Benno used the days when the weather was mild enough to work on the boat. Lots of trim work that is time consuming was done as well as some wall paneling. The odd shapes required templates before cutting, so progress was a bit slower. A Corian counter top for the bathroom vanity (head compartment in nautical terms) got installed. We purchased that from “Designer Countertops” in town where also my kitchen countertops came from and tops for two previous travel trailers. We had a ceramic vessel (sink) for the bathroom ordered, but it didn’t look like the picture of the advertisement, so we returned it. This has to wait now until we are back home.

And yes, Benno got his hearing aids and he is happy with them. He just has to remember to put them in :-) The fitting and fine tuning for hearing aids is quite a process. Something like getting glasses made just for you.

Oh, not to forget our two rascals that got their wiener sausage treat to celebrate Reggies birthday 10 days ago. Elsa’s is in January so we will do it all again.

We are wishing everyone a wonderful holiday time in good health and a Happy New Year!

Monday 27 November 2023

Winter weather will put a stop to what we are doing

 It is -1C/30F outside with a bit of blowing sleet. Benno is tough and keeps working away on the boat. But he has to walk back and forth between the boat and garage where he does his cutting.  Inside the trawler the Webasto diesel heater keeps the main cabin at a decent temperature and in the forward cabin an electrical heater helps to maintain a workable condition. Also an electrical heater in our insulated garage makes it possible for Benno to do some wood cutting without freezing his b! off, but the dust is awful as it settles everywhere inside especially if he uses the router and he often has his equipment set up outside. I think soon we will have to pack it in until next spring.

There is sleet blowing around and it's freezing cold!

This past month we again did a lot of traveling. The material we use for paneling was almost used up, so we once more travelled to the Bontrager’s Surplus store in Michigan. It’s a long way from home and it felt even longer with construction and lane closures along the way. I hope we bought enough material so we don’t need a repeat. Also trips to get the lumber for Benno to mill down and then to cut into strips for the trim took some time out of being productive back home. Yes, there is a lot of time spent to source and order stuff or driving to get the materials needed. It is even a pain to get the right stainless steel screws not every hardware store carries.  However, progress was made.

To put the work involved into prospective, I took some photos to show you the work sequence. In a boat, especially a small one, there are no straight walls to work with. Most areas are angled or curved and because we are redoing, we have to work with what was originally designed without ripping everything apart. So Benno has to make templates to make sure the panels will fit the space before actually cutting the material to avoid cutting mistakes.

The making of a template, look at the notes and its size

More templates leaning at the wall

Marking the panel to be cut

Cutting of the panel

Spraying adhesive onto the cut panel

To stiffen the panels if they are not installed onto a flat wall, Benno cuts a plywood panel the same size as the top sheet and then uses a spray adhesive to glue them together.

The panel is now installed on the right side

At the moment we are working on the head compartment (bathroom) which is very tricky in this small space. Probably the most difficult area of the whole boat. It won’t be finished this fall but hopefully close to being done.

The V-berth and some wood trim ready to be installed

The V-berth in the forward cabin we also modified. We added a removable piece at the front to fill in the gap between the two berths to make it a large V. At the foot end the two long berth boards  were cut horizontal to give access to the battery below and to reach the storage area next to it. Of course those all had to have extra supports made to carry the boards. I painted everything in a beige/brown paint although the bottom will be covered with the mattress and more panels will cover the walls and some of the painted areas. 

The new VHF Radio installed and hooked up

One of our trips was again to the mail depot in Detroit to pick up two orders. We got a 22 inch steering wheel and a new VHF Radio. The steering wheel presented us with a slight problem, because the steering pump shaft is a tapered shaft and did not fit our new wheel which had a straight bore. Benno dismantled the hydraulic steering pump and modified the pump shaft that it now does work with this new wheel. Thanks to his talent and his shop equipment (Lathe), I might add!

The new steering wheel in working condition

On a side note, Benno decided to purchase a hearing aid. He has worked decades servicing printing and bookbinding equipment, specifically cutting machines. Those machines were located close to very loud printing and folding machines that for sure damaged his hearing over time, on top of this when he did his 36 month military service it was with the artillery and they were shooting 155 mm shells (M44 and M109 howitzer), quite a bang!!  With new technology and sophisticated hearing aids being offered, he will receive this new device next month. Because of the required tests and appointments involved, we had to make several trips to London, Ontario, to get this arranged, but we are both looking forward to this new gadget! 

It will be a while yet before we are heading out with our travel trailer and I am hoping for a break in the weather when we are finally ready to go. I will let you know before we leave though.

Thanks for dropping in again. 

Monday 30 October 2023

Another month that went quickly

 Here is the update on our October doings. Sorry folks it took so long, but blog postings were not on my mind this month. Progress on the trawler has been steady. There were still many electrical jobs completed as well as some woodwork. Benno’s goal was to have the pilot house completed before winter except for the ceiling, which is really the last thing after everything is mounted topside and all wiring is complete.

Planing the next step is really important in boat building. Having the items on hand to make the right connections as well as making sure the part fits the space. So with this thought in mind, I got a new kitchen appliance that was meant for the boat. For years I have been using a Breville toaster oven daily. I liked it so much that I started to substitute it for my big kitchen oven for most of our baking needs. It is really a neat compact appliance but I read about a new Breville that incorporates an air fryer as well as microwave in addition to the convection oven all in one unit with many preset cooking menus that use a combination of the above. 

Photo taken from the Internet of my Convection/Toaster Oven

When the Breville arrived I wanted to try it out in my kitchen before storing it away to be installed in the trawler. Well, after using it now for a month I don’t want to give it up, so decided to keep it right here in my kitchen and to take my previous Breville appliance into the boat as it will be sufficient enough for most of our food preparations while underway.

My new combination Convection Oven/Air Fryer/Microwave

Speaking of food, we had a wonderful, scrumptious  family Thanksgiving dinner that our son cooked and our oldest granddaughter, Heidi baked the apple crumble dessert. We almost licked our plates, it was that delicious. :-)

Benno celebrated a special birthday and for that occasion I used the new Breville to bake the foundation for the hazelnut/marzipan cake. See all the trouble I go through for my hubby, grinding the hazelnuts and making the marzipan from scratch!

We were fortunate to have mostly great weather this month with lots of sunshine and it being warm enough to wear shorts some days. I managed to clean up some of the garden in preparation for the winter. However the neighbouring trees are shedding their leaves now and there will be more cleanup to come. Yesterday I brought in three more zucchinis and with frost forecasted for tonight that plant will be history tomorrow. 

The roots are in that pot to the left, the plant wandered all the way down to the walkway

I have helped Benno by varnishing the wood trim that he made, painted with epoxy paint the cabinet that will house the new VHF radio, Solar Panel Controller and Furuno GP-33 GPS Unit and gave him a hand when needed, like grinding a difficult corner with his Dremel Multi-Max oscillation tool. 

Perhaps some of our readers have fabricated wood cabinets or other projects and used plugs, but I was wondering if any of you are familiar with making plugs from the same type of wood so that you don’t see the screws at all. Well, that is what is done in custom boatbuilding and our third time around to do it. 

As an example here are some photos to illustrate what I mean. 

First the screw holes were drilled into the trim with a countersink bit to create a cavity for the screw and plug. Next he drives the screw in.

Then Benno used his drill press with a wood plug cutter bit to cut plugs of the same wood and popped the the plug out of the wood strip with a small screw driver.

These plugs are glued with epoxy (West System Epoxy) into the holes and after the epoxy is cured the plugs are cut off with a Japanese flush-cut saw and then sanded before being painted. It is time consuming but worth the effort, we think.

This is the Japanese flush-cut saw Benno uses to cut off the plugs

The contract we had with our local Virgin Plus cellphone provider was up. By switching to Koodo we increased our data to 10GB per phone and are saving  $430.92 per year. However, when traveling to the US we still have to get a US SIM card and if we use our Canadian SIM in the US we are looking at a fixed rate per day for roaming but unlimited calling to back home. 

Benno winterized the travel trailer and greased the wheel bearings and suspension as he does every year before we head out to our winter travel. When that will be, we don’t know yet as Benno wants to complete as much work on the trawler as he can before the cold temperatures will put a stop to that activity. So stay tuned for what we are into next.

Thanks for not giving up reading my blog.

Saturday 30 September 2023

Great weather to start October


I’ll be sure to plant green beans again next year.

In May of this year I planted three different types of tomatoes, two zucchini, two yellow peppers and one small green bean plant, all in pots sitting on a sloped retaining wall facing south. What surprised me is that the tiny green bean plant produced so many beans all summer long although it is plagued by grasshoppers, snails and I assume earwigs at night. 

The tomatoes were great and I had more than we could consume on a daily base so I froze plenty after making tomato sauce from them. The zucchini are still growing too, but not as fast as they did during July and August. Perhaps I give up on the peppers because they were late and are so plentiful, huge, plump and inexpensive in the stores that it seems almost a waste of my effort for me to grow them. Besides I never had much luck with red ones. 

Many of my flowers are done blooming for the season but there is still some colour in my flower beds and with the hot weather we are having at the moment, maybe we get to enjoy them a bit longer.

Benno had been happy that we had some cooler temps that made working in the boat so much easier. He did a lot of electrical work with hookups and rewiring. We took off the fabric ceiling material as many of the wires are now running there. They will be hidden under a false ceiling and Benno finished the strapping already. Maybe you noticed, but the two vertical supports between the front windows are a bit bigger now. Inside are six wire cables in the right one and 4 (so far) in the left running down to the breakers underneath the steering console. Just like I mentioned, cables will be hidden.

Our last trip to the Toronto area netted Benno some round 3 inch long 1-3/4 stainless steel round bar pieces from the Metal Supermarket. Last week he manufactured on his lathe five covers from this 316 grade stainless steel, which are installed over now obsolete thru hull holes on the starboard site of the hull. The idea was to close those holes without major wood/paint work and this way thru hulls can be reinstalled if the need arises.

I did some more painting with the brown/beige Epoxy paint on the shelves behind the helm man’s  seat. Benno is building a cabinet on top of it that required him to remove a small support using a chisel and flex grinder. Not an easy job!

Btw, in my last post I mentioned my technique of varnishing. It was taught to me by a Danish Shipwright when our sailboat “Najade” was being built and the wood used was white Oak. The way he showed me was that when using Oak (not all wood types need this) The first coat of varnish is being thinned down 50% with Mineral Spirit. It brings out the grain that can be scraped off with the metal scraper when the paint is dry. Then the next coat can be sanded lightly and if needed scraped again to take off any dust particles. After the final coat is dry the varnish is rubbed down with extra fine (0000 steel wool and 3-in-one oil) to give it a satin finish. To note, never insert your painting brush/foam/roller into the paint can as it will jell up over time. I use a coffee scoop and a plastic container from which I paint. The same goes for any other paint if you want it to last longer.

Aside from the ongoings in the boat, Benno decided he will relocate the VHF antenna from the deck to the little stub mast and therefore the present cable will be too short for that. However it is long enough to hook up the antenna if mounted to the roof of his shop to the VHF radio mounted inside his shop. He has a 12V power supply there anyway. Now if working in there he can listen to the VHF traffic on Lake Erie ;-)

I think I stop for now for this post or it will be overload. See you next time on this blog. Thanks for stopping by.