A lot has gone on in the past week. The boat has had some work done and th crew roster for the trip has been changed and firmed up.

First, the boat’s upgrades. We had solar panels installed by one of the Marina residents, Mo. In addition to that, he put in a battery meter so that we can tell how many amps we have pumping into our batteries. It’s almost 1 p.m. here and we’re kicking 10 amps into the system with the fridge running. Mo also changed th battery set up that we had. Andrew had exchanged his generator for a battery bank from the shipyard here in Tel Aviv. He thought he got some bulletproof batteries out of it. The batteries themselves are quite good, but they were hooked up incorrectly. We have three Trojan deep-cycle batteries of 130 A each and a very big automotive battery. These were all hooked up together for the house systems, with a separate battery serving as the starter battery. Mo took the two different kinds of batteries – which he described in true Israeli fashion as being like “milk and pork” – and made the deep-cycle ones the house batteries and the big automotive one the starter battery. The former starter battery has been taken out entirely. (we’re trying to sell it to get rid of it.) So now we have a battery bank of 390 A from the Trojans which gets recharged by the solar panels and a starter battery that is triple the size of the standard one.

Mo is a very experienced sailor and boat mechanic who is expecting a child with his girlfriend. They live on the boat that was our neighbor until we moved just a few days ago. He has surprising blue eyes, a shaved head and two hoops in his left ear. He used to run the shipyard in the marina with his partner, but he left after another guy was brought into it. This other guy is generally looked down upon for doing shoddy work. Mo, on the other hand, is known for doing great work, but being correspondingly expensive. He has a certain way of talking that makes you think that he doesn’t care what you think one way or the other, but which is actually some carefully planned rhetorical strategy. We were peppering him with questions on everything from the systems he was putting in to the sails we’re getting to autopilots. He would usually answer with some form of the socratic method rather than a direct, yes or no. It seemed for a while that he was doubtful about everything on the boat and Andrew just wanted him to stop talking after a while.

The work he did was good, however. Now we have an alternative power source besides running the engine. I didn’t get hands-on experience with the solar panels, but I feel like I learned a lot just watching them work. (By “them”, I’m including Mo’s partner Shmolich – a kind of goofy guy with a mop of curly hair and a strange, but ready laugh) Since the solar panel system is modular, it made me think that more houses should have solar panels installed, even if it’s a modestly-sized system. Granted, houses use more electricity than boats do, but even a marginal offset would help save money and fossil fuels.

The other big upgrade to the boat is that the forward head (i.e. toilet) is now working. Yariv, a friend of Andrew’s from the Herzliya marina, fixed it in a matter of minutes. This after the whole system had been taken apart and all of the tupes and pipes inspected for problems. As Yariv put it, “I used to think that boats were complicated. So, if there was a problem, I’d start thinking about complex reasons for it. But then you try a solution and find that it is really a very basic thing in the end. So, now I start with the simple solutions and work from there.”

Yariv also fixed the shower in that head – another simple problem having to do with the handles – and disconnected a strange pair of wires that ran into the bathroom and under the sink. These wires ran from the main circuit control panel amidships, under one couch, across the cabin to the starboard side, under the other couch, through into the forward bunk and finally emerged under the sink. WE have no idea what they were put there for. These are the kinds of things that take up your time in a boat. Yariv had to open all these panels and doors and remove couch cushion and dig through stuff that had been stowed away to see the wire wend its way. Ultimately we had to chalk it up to the previous owner getting some idea that he didn’t follow through with. After that Yariv fixed the control for the windlass which, oddly enough, is also in the forward head.

So, for all of his demonstrated utility, and because he seems to be a pretty cool, laidback dude, he was invited to come along for the Atlantic Crossing. He had very politely dropped a few hints and so we weren’t surprised when he accepted wholeheartedly. Zohar took herself off the crew for the ocean crossing. That was a bit of drama, but in the end it all worked out, maybe for the best. So, now we are going to be me, Andrew, Yariv, Ron and Simona. It should be a good group with more than enough experience for us (Andrew and I) to feel very confident about the trip.