To wear or not to wear, that is the question

So this is our 2nd day in Zaandam, and it the wind died down to a very gentle breeze. Sitting on the back is delightful now in the sun.

We did do grocery shopping yesterday at Albert Heyn. Deb started off wearing a mask, but after about 2 city blocks she saw nobody was wearing one, so Deb removed it. People walk around each other with a nice distance, or wait until you are passed. The big shopping street, Gedempte Gracht, has signs on the ground, suggesting which way the flow of pedestrian should go.

walking direction
With the bridge crossing they even added a divider

Pedestrians keeping a good distance. Not seen anybody commenting on us wearing a mask. So much nicer than back in Ohio.
Went to Blokker, yes put on a mask before entering. Mine has the text “Alles Kits?” ( all ok ? ) . The entrance and exit are clearly marked and everything is one way. Hand sanitizer available at entrance and exit. Bought a handmixer there, so I can continue to make Cauliflower Mash, and minimize carbs. Then continued to Albert Heyn, only the self scan registers are open, and yes when you paid, you get the choice of a ‘full’ receipt’ or a ‘short one’ which have a bar code on it, opening the exit gate.

Walked passed the T-mobile store, and they just have the door open but roped off, because all employees are helping a person. Great way of controlling!

T-mobile. Filled to capacity

So the gist is, people wear a mask when they can not keep distance and nobody made it political. I am sure we will encounter one Karen during our stay here.

Q

No No we are not referring to the QAnon as many do in the USA. QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory detailing a supposed secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Just the Yellow Quarantine Flag to indicate we are in quarantine, since we are complying with the 14 day self isolation after arriving from a country which can not control the Covid-19 out break.

Such a difference with the Midwest of the USA. pretty much everybody walks around without a mask, people keep distance. I noticed the automatic reaction of the GGD person asking to see my health declaration. Being semi awake I had the declaration in my hand and stepped towards him, wanting to hand it to him, he automatically stepped back. “Please just show me”

The sun is out, the wind is out, so when the wind dies down it is nice and hot, and when the wind is blowing is is semi chilly. Especially compared to the

Groundhog day….Or…..How to deal with a flight reservation when you have Covid-19 on the planet.

Remember the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray?

Just for laughs I am going to share our experience with flights…

First off we have NOT flown yet….this is JUST getting the flights organized

So BC. (Before Covid-19) we booked 2 tickets one for me and one for the admiral, who would arrive later and leave sooner because of a concert performance she had to give.
Me May – September, Admiral Jun-August

Then Covid-19 appeared…Because my early arrival was based on a dental appointment, I made the 1st change. Instead of leaving beginning May, I changed it to leaving 1st week June with the admiral. A direct flight to Paris and a connecting to Amsterdam

So re-I book to the same direct flight to Paris and then Paris Amsterdam as the Admiral. Easy Peasy as they say …simple and online.

Then Travel ban and 1st round of flight cancelations hits everybody, so the flight to Paris was canceled, thus rerouted to Detroit and then to Amsterdam, with a 45 minute layover in Detroit. Easily done online and a small credit. By booking on a different plane the same day I get a better seat, a second free bag to checkin (2nd bag costs $100) all for the increase of $58.

Then it was announced, NO food and only a bottle of water handed out by staff for the transatlantic flight….
OH the memories of real china, real ice-cream and whipped cream, the welcoming champagne.
So scramble….we can get wine in the Tax free…….BUT how do we get a cork screw passed security…so we can open the bottle of wine to drink on the plane”

Then low and behold some flights to Detroit were knee capped. Unfortunately, could not do it on the web and had to call. “The average wait time for a representative is 2 hours”. At the same time Mike, the chef, asks me if I can run to the grocery store to buy a few ingredients he needs. So while I am looking for good Jalapeno’s, the airline calls back. Resulting to rebooked on an earlier flight to Detroit with a 4 hr lay over.

The fun begins, since more flights were canceled. and only a 6 am and a 6 pm departure to Detroit were available, meaning either a 10 hr layover in Detroit, or arrive 45 minutes after the Amsterdam flight left, resulting in a 23 hr lay over.

More enjoyment was being added because now face masks have to be worn, in the airport and during the flight.

Possible options, fly via Atlanta. (an extra 4 hrs flying for the whole trip ) plus 4 hr layover or a 4 hr drive to Detroit
BUT luckily we will be getting food again once during the flight. (you are allowed to remove your mask then)
After discussion we opted to drive, but but late night research showed a flight to Detroit at the correct time from another airport (1hr drive) if we leave a day earlier.

So call the airline AGAIN……”the average wait time to speak to a representative is 8 hrs…..we will call you back”
Finally you get the airline again….and after explaining, the flight is being modified and there is a good connection a day earlier, you hear some keystrokes and…….then……”sorry that flight is canceled just now”
So we finally settled (at this moment ) for a 4 – 5 hr drive to Detroit then mask on …check in, board and go to the barge.

ONCE we fly we will update how empty …the flight was/ is

Currently we have 4 seats for us 2

Fly safe

OK so departure is getting closer… The flight DTW-AMS is still on. Got an email that the reservations changed, so I quickly looked, with a pounding heart and saw no changes. Well it leaves at 18:05 now, if that was the change?

Since I am on delta.com let me see flight from CVG or DAY to DTW and low and behold there is a flight from DAY arriving BEFORE the DTW-AMS leaves. So early am I call delta, and “it is too busy now, call back later’. A few more calls and I get a 1hr 45 ins wait time. While having lunch, thanks Mike! I get called back and after profusely apologizing for not being able to get use comfort + or 1st class we get main cabin…it is a small commuter one. So now we have a flight DAY – DTW at NO cost extra. Well yes Delta might be a few $ more expensive, but is was worth it in the end run.

Lets see how Sunday goes……

Since we do not have to drive to Detroit we don’t have to rent a car etc. The next door oldest son agreed to drive us there, we would take the Volvo. A few days ago it started vibrating at some speeds, so the wheels had to be balanced. Unfortunately the only open slot was Saturday the 6th. Brought it in, and low and behold, the verdict came….tie rods need to be replaced. arrghhh. Andy mentioned we could use his dad big SUV, so that was no real worry.

Check-in time….all goes fast and quickly when using the Delta website. I get checked in, sign in for Deb and. “For international travel you can only check-in in person, at the airport”. GRRRRRRRR

We will see tomorrow.

So we never made it Sunday June 7. Saturday June 6 right after Dinner, I got attacked and had my throat and air pipe pierced, resulting in a 4+ hours Surgery visit and a stay in the ICU for a bunch of days. That is a story for another post or over beers/wine, this post is about groundhog day,

Deb who had to watch that horror event tried to change the flight that night, and was offered a later trip at double the price, then she tried to cancel the flight via text and was busy over 8 + hours.

My 2nd day in the ICU I got hold of Delta, shared the stabbing and ICU visit and the ticketing agent asked for some details about the hospital, and with NO cost she changed the flight till the 3rd week in July, giving me enough time to get better.

Oh Deb and I came up with the point that the large scar, from about ear to the adams apple was caused by vampire wrestling. I am looking for a hairless cat, so I can have a picture, which I can pet and hold the world ransom for 1,000,000 dollars ( like in Austin Powers)

Woohoo so we made our trip later. Flying via Detroit, and today ( June 20) I found out that the return flight via Paris is canceled. This will be change #12 ! What I really dislike is missing the leg flying with KLM. They offer upgrades the moment you check-in online, and upgrading for a few Euro’s you get business class plus use of the lounge ! Ah well, also dealing with immigration in Detroit will be the usual hassle compared to Cincinnati.

So giving Delta some time during the weekend, I waited till Monday to see what to do about the canceled CDG-CVG flight, but Delta kinda took care of it. they have us flying AMS->CDG->DTW->CVG. instead of just AMS-DTW-CVG. Took only 5 calls to get into the queue to change the flight. Also found out they changed planes model for the DTW->AMS leg. One small advantage. the flight DTW-CVG is on the upgraded 350 so we are seating premium economy now!

So we had the DBA Zoom meeting, and the 59 minute callback time of Delta, lapsed 2 hrs ago. Started the zoom meeting and saw some faces with names, and yes you guessed it…Delta called. Explained the wish to change, and the reservation agent did not wanted to ‘upgrade us’ so yes you guessed right again. “let me speak to a supervisor”. Finally the supervisor gets on, seems a bad connection on her side, so she had to call back, after dropping the call. That agent also did not wanted to budge on a free upgrade. since comfort + was full that Sunday, I dropped , lets do is Saturday, which still had comfort + seats available. Departure at 3pm, so no need for a hotel, saving $$

So today we are flying! Two suitcases packed ( 75 % parts for jan-kees). Passports ready, health declaration of the Dutch ministry of Health filled in, a few mouth-nose masks ready. Jan’s maks have text like “quit staring, where is yours”, “If you can read it you are too close” while Deb’s masks are a lot more relaxing and nicer, with smileys, peace signs, floral art. So just relaxing having breakfast, the last time I can heat hot Goetta from Stehlin’s sizzling in the pan. And then off to the airport. Flying with Delta. The 1st leg Cincinnati -> Detroit is fairly loaded, but stil extra empty space. The leg Detroit -> Amsterdam is a lot less crowded, 10 passengers in a 48 passenger area! Quite a bit better than American Airlines or United.

We got checked in without any hick-ups. The Airport in Cincinnati is quite deserted, Delta provides free mask, so that should keep everybody safe. Of course you still see ‘humans’ who once after the security check remove their mask, or adjust it as a chin protector.

The boarding went smooth and it went from the back to the front (so much more logical than what has been used in the past). Deb got upgraded to Comfort +. When I asked the gate agent he had no problem upgrading me also, since the seat next to Deb was empty ( for social distancing purposes). But I saw him hitting the keys over and over and getting frustrated. He finally gave up and said, the system is not letting him, so just tell the flight attendant that I said it was ok.

We went to each of our seats and decided that each having 2 seats for a 60 minute hop was just as good. Barely clasped my seatbelt closed and the pilot made an announcement. “A weather system is over Detroit and we are delayed for 60 minutes. Instead of letting you wait here in the sun, let’s embark, so you can be more comfortable in the gate area”. While embarking I did voiced my objection to this. ” I am NOT used to this kind of nice treatment. When I fly with American or United, they leave us more than 2 hours waiting before take off, why why can I not get the same abuse from Delta”. And that provided a chuckle.

45 minutes later we boarded again and I was greeted “welcome to your abuse paradise”. As you see it was quite empty.

After landing in Detroit, we decided to take our time in the tunnel connecting the 2 terminals. It is always so relaxing to see the colors and the music.

Normally all these displays have entries and they contain only a few hours, Now they had the whole day !

Instead of 3 1/2 hr layover we only had a 2 1/2 hr, so I decided to treat deb to some sushi. Which was a good idea, until I saw the prices. It looked like Mr Ando prices but the sushi quality of Mr Sushi ( 1/2 price sushi)

While at the gate we were asked to have our health declaration form reviewed, and the persons who did not had one, should get one. Seems gate agents did not know this. Make me wonder how much of the ‘no flying’ policy is actually enforced. I did got an A++ the agent declared loudly when I asked form him to review my thesis.

48 seats, 10 passengers

The new 350 (Delta flagship) is quite nice. with all the changes we got a free upgrade from comfort + to Premium Economy. The seating is 2-4-2. The seats are wide enough, the foot rest is great for people under 6′. Only negative part I found was that the arm rest are not movable, so with an empty plane like we had 10 people for 48 seats in Premium Economy, we could not lay flat over 3 -4 seats like they could in economy. Because we also left an hour later than the original departure, the embarkation was like. in pre-covid time, push run, push. Seemed like most of the passengers had a connecting flight.

Immigration was a quick drop of the face mask, then pick up the suitcases.

The luggage belts were just empty. It was kinda fun, no need to jostle for position.

and on we walked to the train station.

“It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” or better said “baby it’s cold outside”

One thing we always need to watch is the temperature inside the engine room. Now we can be easy and just turn on a fan, and turn it of once we are done cruising. But why not make it automatic. We have arduino’s we have temperature probes….so lets do it, lets make it.
The other advantage of this method is, if the temperature rises even more we can automatically turn on a 2nd fan, to blow even more ‘colder’ air into the engine room.
This cruising year I’ll just watch how much the temperature handles and will decide then if I want the extra power blower option. But with the horrid warm temperatures like in the high high 30’s (C) we might need it.

Real simple to use are the DS18B20 waterproof temperature probes. They cost about $3-$5/ piece, are waterproof and are 3 wire. +5V GND and signal. The big advantage of these are that you can hook up a number of them on the same Arduino port ( -55C to +125C, with a 0.5C accuracy) . You can even get them with a BSP 1/2 Thread, like for your engine cooling circuit.

So I got a few of these on Ebay, connected them to the Arduino, used a 5K pull up resistor connected to the signal wire and +5V and first ran a program to get the Hex addresses, so I knew exactly which one was which one. (YES I copied and pasted it from the web !)
Voila the code…

Now that I knew the addresses, I could slap a program together which has an outside temp probe (AOT, actual outside temperature) and a engine room probe (AIT actual inside temperature).
All the speeches and articles I have soaked in about engine room cooling they keep talking about a DELTA of 25 F ( 13.8 C so 14C).
So the fan should come on if the AIT > AOT+14 . We do not want the fan to turn off at the same temperature point so, we turn the fan off if AIT < AOT+5, the last one is just a personal choice. To control the fan I added a relay board on it , connected the control wire to digital 7 and the relay works like a charm.

The relay is a 10 amp 250V relay. 1 channel relay board for Arduino, around $5- $6 on Ebay.

So the code is working, I will get a 4 line LCD screen so I can view the temperatures from the wheel and get a breadboard to solder the components on. More to come.

For those grumpy old man who remember the TV show “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” it was a fun one!

A better Oasis

when we bought Jan-Kees we were told it had a 640 Liter water tank, the first work visit I installed a water sensor, since it was just voodoo guessing how full the tank was. The next improvement was installing a 24V pump with e remote switch. The only way the pump could be stopped was by pulling the fuse, but that could only be done by removing wooden panel between the living area and the front storage area!

The next improvement was connecting it to the Venus, so we could read out the level anywhere on the barge. BUT since the fill opening was just a hole on the top of the tank, it has happened a few times that the tank overfilled, because the person filling it was distracted. Now to defend that person (me), he is suffering from squirrel syndrome.

Because we never used the generator, and we have 1040 watt solar panels (4 of 260) . decided to remove it and use that space, so we could have 2 water tanks. Based on the space available, putting a tank on each side of the barge, and leaving a space for a bow thruster, I found 500 Liter tanks at Postma tanks which would fit. Talking to the previous owner I found out he put the old tank in place by opening the large hatch, and removing the front living area wall to the front storage area. Since Lars was going to remove the small broken hatch and make it a larger one I told him a size which would accommodate putting the tanks in that way, saving the hassle of pretty much breaking down the whole living area.

Making the front hatch.

cutting out the old hatch
Nearly finished

Once back in Zaandam I cleaned out the front hold and started

The tanks arrived, and after clearing the front area I started maneuvering that tanks in place to go ‘down the hatch’ . but…no luck…..the tanks could not get in…….the hatch, made by Lars was too small. Wait too small? mmm yes and no. The total opening size was perfect, BUT they added a U frame to divert any water, making the opening about 10 cm smaller !!!

Since Remy was coming to help me the next day and had some limited time, I decided to remove all the clothing storage, the bookshelves etc, all this on one of the hottest days in the summer. (This is also the day that I developed my hernia, leading to a ‘semi emergency liposuction, but that is for another entry)

removed the interior wall
making a floor for the tanks to rest on

The flange we got from pvc24.nl had a 25 mm diameter. When I ordered them I was not aware that that size is NOT a standard size you can get at Hornbach. So after ta trip to Hornbach we found a nearly fitting pipe, filled up the void with the white teflon tape, and wrapped the vulcanizing tape on the outside. Unfortunately, the pipe dropped quite quickly, and the only way to get fresh water was to drop a piece of tyleen directly connected to the pump in the tank. After calling the pvc24.nl I ordered 2 pieces of pipe the correct diameter. Unfortunately the vulcanizing tape was swimming in the tank, which later was sucked up by the pipe, stopping the flow, so after emptying the tank we were able to get it out.

I did added 2 floats in each tank, one to warn the tank is nearly full and the other 1 inch higher as a final warning ( which can also be used later to close the electric valves, which I am installing later)

Because of the hernia, I did not do much more work on the system, but in 2020 I will get the 2nd tank ready, connect both tanks with an electric shut off valve, so that the pump can pump from both, or by closing one valve we can also level the barge a bit.

back deck

The original “roef” was just not working out for us, it was awkward to get to the back, making it higher as a 2nd bedroom would have been a ton of work, plus trying to keep the diesel smell out of it, and keeping the steering cable and inverters easy accessible, so we decided to remove and lower it, make a walkout back and a seating.

Nearly Finished

Here is a picture from the back, when the welding was done, now finish seating and painting and adding lighting

Now that some painting is done, we needed to glue some wood strips to the back of the seat build up, so we have support for the 4 seat slats. First I wanted to make them from these recycled decking, but since this was the first time and considering the cost, I opted for some standard treated wood. Each piece I started with the center slat and lined it up with the center of the circle.

Then we added the pillows. Before we went on this trip, we looked int he internet for a company who could make these pillows, found one close by, but looking to the samples, Deb wanted something more fun. Luckily Sunbrella is made in the USA, so Deb found some great design, calling back to Naaldwijk, we found out they have to order and import it. So thanks to Amazon, it arrived 2 days later, and nestled itself in my suitcase, occupying 1/2 of the volume.
Once the seats were finally done, I called the company to give them the final measurements, helas, it would take 4 weeks now, because of the holiday, meaning….it wont be ready when Deb came back from Austria. Quickly called around locally and found a person who could make them in time. The cost was about 450 Euro higher, but it was pure quality. He even made sure the way the pillows would be attached to the railing matched perfectly.

Then we added the pillows. Before we went on this trip, we looked int he internet for a company who could make these pillows, found one close by, but looking to the samples, Deb wanted something more fun. Luckily Sunbrella is made in the USA, so Deb found some great design, calling back to Naaldwijk, we found out they have to order and import it. So thanks to Amazon, it arrived 2 days later, and nestled itself in my suitcase, occupying 1/2 of the volume.
Once the seats were finally done, I called the company to give them the final measurements, helas, it would take 4 weeks now, because of the holiday, meaning….it wont be ready when Deb came back from Austria. Quickly called around locally and found a person who could make them in time. The cost was about 450 Euro higher, but it was pure quality. He even made sure the way the pillows would be attached to the railing matched perfectly

A new shower

The original shower was made out of wood, which was functional, but it had its limitations….sloped floor, drain with limited capacity, so it had to change.

For evacuation of the water I ended up with a Whale IC.

shower base . vandammekunstof . sides schulte douchemeister

Plastic Surgery

As of April 29 Jan-kees is at the surgeon (Welder), where the original roof is being removed and a walk out deck with cover and seating is being created.
Lars who also welded the gas tank, is taking charge

Today he did the incisions…the big hold up will be finding somebody who can manufacture a correct door.

Covering the electrical equipment
The first cuts around the outside and along the width

Port and Starboard cuts

Ready with cutting……….. attached to the crane and then …….there is the sun in the back

Here is a drawing made by daniel

The back dek moving along

One of the hinges for the hatch. With this kind of hinge the floor will stay even

And it is getting close
Door opening is 80 cm . which allows a door of 67 + the frame on both sides

Closed hatch, smooth surface

Open Hatch, just have to order the Gas Springs, and perhaps later an electric actuator.

Turn the Heat on ….

Well it really means, we just landed in Schiphol ( Amsterdam Airport), get your smartphone out, log into vrm.victronenergy.com, go to jan-kees, go to the console, and press the start button , so it wil be warm when we arrive at the barge.

What really happened is with the help of the VRM website I was able to log into the Victron Venus, and turn on the relais ( which could also be used to start a generator automatically). The Venus has 2 programmable relais. 6A 250V/30V DC.
But just for safety we will use the Venus relais to use another 24 VDC relais to turn the Kabola on.
Just in the event there is no connection I also installed an over ride switch, and put it in a separate fuse box.

In the fuse box we will have the main heating fuse, the relais, over ride switch and selector switch selecting the Kabola or the Vetus ( see electric schema below)

—electric schema —

–picture box–

Just a reminder…software is more powerful than a real switch or…..why not get frustrated with replacement Victron multi’s

So I started getting alerts from my Victron Multiplus….AC overloads. Well wat the Frell!
So you go to the boat. open the hatch and you see flashing light,  turn off the multi , wait a bit and turn it back on and all seems to be working fine and you go home. Later you get again a overload warning, so you use the VRM website to get into the Venus control unit remotely, and set the inverter to charge only. Drive back to the boat and recheck it…and the same problem …it ain’t working….so you call your dealer where you bought it, and hear……  “Most likely the AC board I have seen this before ” and he provides and RMA and yes he sends at the same time a replacement unit, since it is still under the 5 year warranty !!
The new unit arrives. Plop it in its place and reconnect all wires, turn it on …and magically…the light work …..So you plug the table into the Venus and poof all goes dark. Ok …must have put it in the wrong input. ve.net, ve.can .ve.direct…..but NO it happens a few second after you plop the network cable in. This happened a year ago also , and then it was a software update on the Venus which did this. A call to Daniel…and I was gently reminded that the moment the Venus detects the multi it will set it in the function set in the Venus, which was not the same as the switch on the machine……so I get into the Venus control , set the Multi to normal and voila….as the professor in the movie  the 5th element shouts…”Aziz .  LIGHTS”.

So before thinking it was Victrons error…we just have to check the Venus settings.