How long does a 15 gallon holding tank take to fill up? Anyone have any experience with treatment systems? Are they a real bear to integrate? Are they really sanitary/environmentally sound?
We have one onboard and love it. Would never go back to a traditional system. My old 20gal holding tank filled up in 8-10 days with 2 people full time.
Any suggestions for vaccum cleaners? I was thinking a mini-wet/dry shopvac. With our dog, it's a necessity.
Yes, I have one and it's perfect. Doesn't get cat/dog hair out of carpet though. There are some really small vaccums with rollers for carpet that can be had for $30 or so. They look like a large dust-buster.[/quote]
Aftermarket shipborne heaters and AC - what sort of price range can I expect to find on these? Where can I begin looking? Are there any used ones out there?
We use electric heating while shoreside. I've had really good luck with the "Vornado" heater. It's the safest and pushes air all the way to the other end of the boat. Also the delongi oil filled radiator is great and doesn't dry up your eyeballs like a forced air does.[/quote]
Speaking of heating - I've read that most people use propane, electricity, and diesel heaters. No love for the old fashioned wood stove? Does this have more to do with fuel storage than anything else?
The wood stove I had on my last boat was my favorite part of the boat. Pure magic. It was essentially the dickenson solid fuel stove. Tiny tot stoves are better heaters as they're airtight and thus you can control them better. No window though so you can't watch the flame. A neightbor of mine took a welding class just so he could weld up his own airtight wood stove witth window. I think I'm going to do the same. Compressed firelogs or charcol work best.
Home-entertainment systems - I'm lucky to have an HD projector and awesome surround sound here in my apartment, I know those will have to go. ...but has anyone set up a flat-panel HDTV and small surround speakers? Any suggestions about what's better in the confined spaces of a boat?
Seen plenty of these. They seem to work great. Bose comes to mind.
Computers - should I stick with my laptop only? Or try to integrate a desktop in somewhere, using the TV as a monitor? Should I chuck my Playstation3 in favor of a blu-ray drive for the computer?
Laptops work great and you can lounge anywhere on the boat. If they have an output that is compatible with your HDTV then it's all that much better. Get a car adapter for your laptop and use that with your battery system when you're not shoreside.
Mooring in DC - Eventually we'd like a slip, but we're willing to live "on the hook" for awhile until we sort that out... I read here that you can moor for free or very cheap for up to two weeks at a time off the gangplank marina; does that mean we'll need to find another place to stay for one or two nights a week? Where else could we moor in or around DC?
I would find a slip unless you're really SURE you want to live on the hook. Does your wife want to row the dingy into work in the DC winter? Can you generate enough power? There are lots of considerations with living on the hook and it is a much much bigger step than just living aboard.
Toolkit - I'm going to need to pair down my set of tools. What do you think are the essentials I'll need to bring? (preliminary list: Sander, drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw, jigsaw, worklight, wrenches, drivers, planer, torque-wrench, hammer, ball-pein hammer, rubber mallet, steel drift, wood chisel)
I'd start with sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers. That way you can fix most mechanical things. The woodworking tools are less "essential" and more for projects. Since boats always install mechanical things in tight corners get as many socket extenders, wobble extenders, elbows and other devices for working in tight space. Also a set of sutbby wrenches and short screwdrivers can be lifesavers. Check out harbor freight tools. They're dead cheap and their solid toold (wrenches and sockets) are of good enough quality. You don't want to spend too much as it'll all end up overboard, in the bilge or rusted eventually.
Building a bimini - how hard is this? Anyone done it? I'd like to give it a go, any advice?
Never tried it. Seen lots of them cheap on ebay though.
Dinghy's - is sail/row ok? Or is something with a motor really that crucial?
Inflatables require a motor period. I once got swept out to sea from my own marina by current I could not row against a current in my inflatable. I prefer solid dingys for many reasons. The dingy I really want (and plan to buy soon) is: Portland Pudgy multifunction dinghy -- the fun boat that could save your life!
Firearm safety and storage aboard - where are the best places to keep the ship's armory?
If nobody knows you have one you're less likely to get them stolen. Besides that I would buy a small handgun safe and bolt in somewhere hidden. For the long arms you might look into some of the retention devices police use in their cars. Basically it's a lockable molded bit of plastic that goes over the receiver of the AR, shotgun etc. I kept my long arms in a locked steel box that was in a locked cargo truck that was in a locked storage unit. Just recently had them all stolen.
Also guns aboard will get some lite surface rust. Purely cosmetic.
Good luck! Enjoy your new adventure and when you're looking to buy a boat, stick with fiberglass.
MedSailor -lived aboard 8.5years on two boats. The first was wood and while I loved her, she broke my heart in the end. Don't buy wood unless you are already a marine carpenter.