Aug 032017

I’ve come to the end of the ZR-7 rebuild [for a while]. To be honest it seems that life’s balance is once again out of whack, leaning far too much to the spend-it-up and live life today side of things. Time to take a breather and focus on padding the stash for tomorrow again.

Pirelli MT60’s complete the package

No matter how I try, I keep coming back to this angle. Many [most?] will not understand my liking for this machine, nor indeed my customisation. I’m ok with that!

The original plan was to replace the stock headlight with a dual-lens replacement. Of late I have been reconsidering. Perhaps the single round light speaks of the era from which this bike originates?

The next step in the project is to have the seat re-covered, possibly still in red but perhaps more of a darker ox-blood shade and perhaps in leather.


Then……on to the rear !


Dec 262016

South Africa at Christmas time is a dead-zone. Total shutdown. Zero interest. Things may revive during the first week of January but don’t count on it.

So what happens when the main pipe between the turbo and the intercooler gives out in the middle of the Karoo?

Getting a tow might not be impossible. Getting a replacement might take a bit of time.

Having a bit of ductape, a webbing strap and a little ingenuity…!? Well that will get you home 900km later.

Makeshift turbo repairs

Being self-sufficient isn’t always about the money. It’s about freedom. It’s about safety. It’s about personal satisfaction. It’s about keeping going when the rest of the woolly masses are either out of action, too expensive or incapable.

In the context of a roadside breakdown the world is pretty much organised to assist. For a fee. That same kind of breakdown at sea? Well you had better be able to fix it yourself or jury-rig a solution because nobody is coming to help you out there.

Not everything is fixable.

The more complex the systems the less likely it is that you will be able to fix them on your own. Tinkering and fixing also don’t just magically start the first time you have a breakdown. It’s a skill that requires nurturing, a muscle that must be exercised, a mental attitude that needs cultivation. As a result there is some value gained by living with your stuff, by getting to know it, by learning to fix it instead of scrapping it at the first sign of trouble.

Old cars are a pain. They break down. But after they breakdown in a certain fashion several times, as long as you have been paying attention, you learn how to fix them. Yes, perhaps it is easier to just buy a new one with a warrantee and a service plan. Perhaps. But that takes resources and time perhaps better spent on other endeavours?

The trick to all of this is having redundancy.

If the car breaks you want to have breathing space while you source the parts or find the most cost effective repair shop. A trusty motorcycle waiting in the wings allows mobility while all this is happening. Or a bicycle.

At sea, on the sailboat? Build redundancy into your systems. Keep everything as simple as possible. Know how to repair everything on board yourself. And I mean everything. Have a plan if the rudder breaks, if the hull springs a leak, if the mains’l tears straight through.

And in daily life, cultivate the ability to diagnose and repair by practice. Don’t delegate repairs to others by default and before you know how or what needs doing yourself. If you do that then at the very least you’ll know to keep the reapairman honest and above-board while forking over your hard-earned cash. Out at sea that habit just might save your life.

Take personal control of your finances, your tax returns, your life, everything you can. Reject the nanny-state and remain accountable to yourself. There’s power and freedom there.

Oct 162016

Too often we give up on our stuff. We forget that everything breaks, needs repairs. Either we can throw away and buy another, farm out the repairs to somebody else and part with the cash or just do it yourself.

Done...but not sure about that red!?

Done…but not sure about that red!?

Anyhow, for the price of a staple gun and for less than the price I would have paid someone else [if I could even find them] I have a new seat covering. The red? Well that’s the material I had lying around. Guess I’ll need a little time to get used to it.

Aug 222016

I’m sworn off boats, for today at least. The discovery of yet another structural leak (or two) has me seriously depressed with this entire boating thing. What was to have been a super-pleasurable “living the life” thing is turning into an emotional and financial disaster.

I’ve patched it with wax-based sealer (seems that’s my go-to solution these days). What I really need to do is find some ”underwater” epoxy to mix up and do some kind of botch job with.

For now, I’ve cancelled today’s sailing for fear of disturbing the leak even further. Emotionally and financially drained, I need ‘Blue to sit on her mooring for the next few months while I figure out the next steps. And to do that she needs to keep the water out, at least keep it slow enough so the bilge pump has a fighting chance.


Even the under-water epoxy doesn’t do the job. After hours of sanding in the most inaccessible of places, I seal the source of the leak and it shows me the middle finger, migrating out of the delaminated fibreglass a couple of millimeters away. Anyway, it’s (possibly) contained to a couple of drips an hour, not enough to sink the boat or stress the bilge pump too much.

It’ll need to be addressed eventually, but not now. In a huff I lock up and leave. You’re on your own for a while ‘Blue!

Leak #5

Leak #5

Jul 022016

I woke up this morning to find all the posts & pages on NWM missing and IS totally dead.


I’ve never made any backups and never been too concerned because, well, this is a personal project which, while visible to the world, remains [I believe] unread and unmissed should it disappear.

Except that’s not true. As soon as it was gone I missed it.

Luckily it’s back after a few database “repairs” and a re-coding of the WP-login code on IS to recreate a user name and password.

Needless to say, I’m waiting for a backup to download to local storage while I type this.

Jul 052015

The sense of accomplishment created by watching the results of one’s own personal labour is huge. Ever since we “finished” the renovation on the house, we’ve been bouncing around on small and insignificant projects. Cottage-253 is the challenge we’ve needed. The end result may indeed end up quirky and non-mainstream but we’re having a blast getting stuck in and doing everything we can ourselves, re-using building materials and items we’ve stored up over the years.


Love working with wood! Now that the main structure is up progress should be as fast as the budget allows……..

There’s an ongoing update on progress here.

May 022015

For better or worse we’ve chosen the old car route and so, as the Alfa’s door panel covering starts to disintegrate we have some decisions to make. Either we sink to the level of the surrounding masses and drive a crappy looking car or else we do something. Yip, you guessed it – we’ve decided to rather do something.

As with most things in life nothing is straight forward and in separating the panels we’ve ended up creating more work for ourselves. Somehow the fabric insert panel was “riveted” to the main panel during the manufacturing process. Now we have two distinct pieces on our hands and will need to devise a plan to join them again when this is all over and done.

Material Inserts parting from the doors

Material Inserts parting from the doors

The Starboard door is barely hanging in there

The Starboard door is barely hanging in there

The port door panel removed

The port door panel removed

Some funky new red "leather"

Some funky new red “leather”

The port door setting under pressure

The port door setting under pressure

Perhaps the starboard door should be done in Green leather ??

Finally, after plugging away over a period of a few weeks the job is done!

The starboard door - red after all

The starboard door – red after all

Mar 222015

I guess the most exciting tales originate from people on the extremes. Sailing a Volvo Open 60 in the Southern Ocean, a tiny minimalist off-grid cabin in the Texas desert, cycling alone across Africa. The reason why we enjoy reading and watching these adventures is, I guess, because they stir a chord within us, awaken a deep inner need to do something similar. And yet not all of us can or even wish for such extremes.

In the next stage of making the future happen we’ve decided it may be wise to start the next big project. If there’s one thing that we have in common it’s building stuff and it’s a super way of future-proofing our lives as well so we’re diving in head first even though we have only a rudimentary sketch plan, some cool ideas and a vague schedule.

So off-grid living is a very cool sounding concept, something I could have a go at and so, that’s the plan for Cottage-253. However, I’m under no illusions. While I’m happy to cook on charcoal and propane I quite like my automatic dishwasher. While I’m happy to hang clothes out to dry I actually do want the automatic clothes washer to do the drudge-work.

So, what we are really after I suppose, could be called a semi-off grid cottage with backup to the existing municipal utilities but to a much reduced scale. The plan is to have umbilical connections to power, water mains and sewerage but only for minimal usage and backup. All cooking and water heating [bath and shower] will be by propane. Heating via wood-burning stove/heater. Solar panels will provide for the majority of lighting and small power needs with only the washers hooked up to mains. Water collection will be from roof runoff but with a supplementary feed from the municipal water main. And so the plan is and continues to evolve…….

At the end of the day we’ll not be immune to prices hikes and tariff increases but the effects will be greatly reduced. We’re not looking for extreme total isolation but rather a sensible mix of both worlds.

Mar 222015

A start has been made. However small it is, nevertheless it’s progress. With the trailer out of the way all that remains is a roof over the space for the “new” workshop and then the work on the semi-grid cottage can start in earnest!

Rustic HP-Wall

Rustic HP-Wall

Frank just openly laughed at us when told it was finished. I reckon he thinks us folks have lost the last marble. After all, I’m always telling him that things should be square, level and straight when he builds.

5 bags of concrete mix and a bag of nails. That’s all I’ve spent recently to get this wall up. The poles for the main structure have been lying around ever since the carport and the cladding has been in the back garden for years and years. The wood is still good, too hard to hammer in the nails without first drilling.

Sometimes one just has to start. It’s easy to try and plan too much, to try and see the end result and as a result end up procrastinating. Sometimes just climbing in with hammer and nails and making a start works out much better. And so it will be with the “new” semi-grid cottage. We have an idea of a plan but that’s it. The rest will evolve as we go along.