Art without engineering is dreaming;
Engineering without art is calculating.

Steven K. Roberts, N4RVE

Friday Harbor – the new home port of Nomadness

I’ve been quiet in this blog lately, not wanting to write a series of posts about the numbingly boring topic of moving, but now it is essentially done but for one final trailer load to bring the Microship from Camano Island. I am no longer based in La Conner, where a long shoaling channel with tricky currents separated me from open water (but where the proximity of workspace to boat was as good as it can get).

The new trade-off resolves very differently… Nomadness is about three boat-lengths away from putting up her sails, right on the end tie to the south of the Friday Harbor ferry terminal…

The lab is at the other end of town (hence the bicycle on the stern rail), and is 2200 square feet that I am just starting to organize after far too many ferry trips involving a 50-foot truck-trailer rig packed with tonnage. I’ll spare you the photos of box-mountains, and even those showing the beginnings of organized workspace, but I do want to introduce Cecil, posed next to the drill press named Big Red (now seeming rather a misnomer):

Cecil be ‘da Mill

This is excellent space for a project, even with the commute (annoying at times, but that’s a First World problem). At the moment, I’m in a mad rush to finish basic setup of work surfaces, inventory, security cams, and all that other infrastructure stuff… August will be a full month of boat geekery featuring Tim Nolan, coming from Wisconsin to take a geek’s vacation and help with the power system, followed by Daniel Collins, fresh from an intense adventure in a Gulf Stream gale.

The most significant recent project aboard Nomadness is the lab desk substrate, something I’ve been thinking about for ages. The entire console system design was frozen, awaiting something more than the crude plywood visualization model that has been there for a year; thanks to the creative energy of Fred Westergaard, it is now complete (and gorgeous… details here):

Nomadness lab desktop and integrated tool cabinet

The desktop is 1.5″ thick, laminated, and very well supported all around in addition to a stainless post in the center. One of the more novel features is a 32″ x 16″ steel plate inset along the middle of the front edge, allowing magnetic fixturing for lights and key tools. I’ve already moved into the tool cabinet, and can observe that it is a lot easier to find things when it is convenient to put them away in the first place. The left edge of that box defines the start of the wrap-around console of 13U rackspaces.

I’ve said this countless times, but I’ll try to be better about blogging here. Most of the project details have been published in the Nomadness Report, which is now a monthly except cough for June… which didn’t happen. Issue #20 is now underway, including a long feature about desk construction, the Raymarine E7 chart plotter, the power project, and details about the new life in Friday Harbor. (2017 note: the link is now to the compilation of all 22 issues.)

It feels wonderful to be here, with sails drifting by and a constant buzz of nautical activity. Much more to come!

4 Comments

  1. Guisepi on August 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Hey there. I couldn’t find how to email you, so I guess a comment will do. As a fellow nomad (my vehicle of choice currently is a short school bus), I was interested in reclaiming American nomadic culture. I felt it was being taken over by takers, which has given many of us nomads a bad name amongst stationary society. I came up the the term nomadness to help define what I was thinking about: bringing some sanity back into the traveling world, bringing some intelligence, compassion, ingenuity, and intention in. Of course, when searching on the internet I found yous site. I am also into the slow travel movement (sailing being a major part of this), alternative energy, consciously choosing the way you live, and being creative/inventive in order to be more efficient. To top this off, I grew up on San Juan Island and actually just got back here and will be around for a few months. Your journeys/boat/Macgyvering/etc are extremely interesting to me. Perhaps two minds such as ours could benefit from sharing ideas.

    My main project is a mobile free tea house I have created as a community building project out of my school bus. Check out my website…

    Hopefully we could at least meet over a cuppa tea.

    PS – nice mill. Love the Bridgeport head.



  2. John Jamieson on March 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Steve,

    Why don’t you just go sailing for a couple of years and shit-can all the geek stuff? If you wait until the boat’s perfect, you’ll never go…

    John



  3. Steve on March 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Reasonable question, John. I’m doing this because it’s fun for me. If all the geek stuff was merely a bunch of jobs standing between here and where I want to be, then I would be chafing at the bit and trimming the to-do list as much as possible. But my own particular blend of passions incorporates the system projects, so it’s OK.

    Also, I lost much of the last 2-3 years to moving (twice) and other logistical/lifestyle overhead… which translated into some of the initial tech solutions getting a little stale. The old “life getting in the way” problem is a much more insidious problem than rampant geekery!

    Happy to be able to report, about a year after this blog post, that things are going well.

    Fair winds,
    Steve



  4. John Slattebo on May 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I hope you have taken advantage of the wisdom of Wade Hill in Friday Harbor. A brilliant man with much cruising experience.
    I cruised the Pacific for three years and believe the amount of enjoyment one maintains is directly related to the number of things aboard that are in need of repair and totally independent of the amount of gear aboard. I do applaud your enthusiasm .