Ten Year Plan Number Plate

s/v Ten Year Plan received it’s official number plate today. U.S. Coast Guard documented boats are assigned a lifetime documentation number. The requirements are the number be affixed to the interior of the boat in such a way as altering them would damage the numbers or the hull. Folks solve this problem in a varieties of ways, including wooden plaques, plastic or metal carved plates.

A friend of mine, Al, owns the AutoMetalSkin company, and offered to make a number plate for me. Using a jewelers saw, he cut out the numbers from a sheet of metal, then using his unique finishing process, coated the number plate with brass. He left it exposed, without a clear coat, so we can watch the metal patina over time. See the video below to see more of the reveal process.

I’m really happy with how the plate turned out.  It’s now mounted at the nav station, in an honored position just down the companionway ladder. I found some stainless screws to mount it, but hope to find some nice brass screws soon. Love how it looks. Thanks for the hard work!

New Boat Arrives

My new Tender arrived today. So of course I had to set it up in my living room. 😁

It’s easy inflate and it all fits in the provided bag. It’s the PHP-310 Air Floor Inflatable from West Marine.

Looking forward to many years of service from this great little boat.

The question has come up several times regarding what to call the little boat. Is it a tender, or a dinghy, a zodiac or a skiff?  Here’s a rough definition of each as I understand them:

  • Tender: Any craft serving as support for another ship. For example, in the navy, our submarine was serviced by a Tender. Also, my little boat is a tender for the larger s/v Ten Year Plan, and helps get stuff/people to and from the boat.
  • Skiff: Generally a small, flat bottomed boat often with a simple single sail rig.
  • Dinghy: A small boat servicing a larger boat. A small sailboat for daysailing. My little boat could be called a Dinghy, but I still prefer the term Tender.
  • Zodiac: An area of the sky designated by the name of the animal or person represented. Also the brand name of some Tenders.

Comfort Without the Bulk

When I was looking to redo the V-Berth on my boat, I researched mattress options, and ran across several ‘under-mattress’ systems and ended up going with the Froli Modular SleepSystems.

The big challenge is ventilation under the mattress.

The Pro’s:

  • Affordable and well made
  • Easy to follow instructions
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Comfortable and adjustable
  • Great ventilation.

The  Con’s

As others have noted, it can be a wrestling match with the Froli to get to the lockers under the cushions in the V-Berth. What has worked for me so far is keeping the overall pieces small enough to handle, instead of creating one large connected piece, I have three smaller pieces: One on port, one for the bench starboard locker cushion, and one for the center key piece.

It’s not like sleeping on a king sized Casper mattress, but it’s comfortable. I was able to keep the V-Berth cushions to 3″ and still have a relaxing berth and a good night sleep.

Boat Renovations

Since purchasing the boat, I’ve been focusing on internal renovations and minor updates.

The first big change was getting the v-berth updated. I took out a couple of small shelves, refinished the drawers, and made a key board and mounting rails. The biggest job was making the cushions.

The next big project was ripping out the cabinets on the starboard side of the main cabin and creating a pilot berth.

The big feature was creating a rail for the berth out of mahogany. Love the way it turned out. Cushion made, and hull insulated. It really opened up a lot of space.

I Replaced the throttle control and working with my diesel tech to replace the engine mounts and install a new sea water pump.

On the port side, I pulled out the shelves that were there, added some hull insulation, and will create a new set of shelves. Still a work in progress. I want to take my time and see what storage I really need before building anything. For now, I’ll just enjoy the open space.

Amateur Radio – W4MTP

“It’s all part of the 10 year plan.”

So part of the plan, along with learning sewing and canvas work, sailing, diesel repair…and many other things, I decided to get my amateur radio certifications to improve my communications options on the boat.

Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need.

ARRL – The national association for amateur radio.

Amateur Radio is a fun hobby. Something for everyone. I’ve been digging into some of the great research around weak signal communications. The WSJT application is a great way to explore the air-waves and reach folks even during bad radio conditions.

If you are curious, I choose my vanity call sign, W4MTP, because I wanted something Ten Year Plan related (My Ten year Plan -> MTP), and the W4 because it’s easier to say phonetically…and also creates the phrase in my head:

Whiskey 4 My Ten year Plan

Gravity Arranged

How does gravity work?

Oh the dreaded scale! We’ve all heard the story about Newton and an apple. Anyone who’s been ice skating knows with personal clarity the importance of treating gravity with respect.

So how does it work? Any two objects in the universe with mass are attracted to each other. But it’s not just a factor of attraction of mass, gravity is a force affecting space as well.

Is the space around newton’s apple bending toward the apple drawing apples in? Well…yes and no. Yes, because the theory applies to small objects, but gravity is a large scale force. It’s the force on the scale of planets and suns, of rotating galaxies and black holes. It’s not the force attracting bits of apple to other bits of apple (small nuclear force) and it’s not magnetism (the force between electric currents.)

But what is gravity? Forces are generally attributed to particles:

  • Gluons
  • Photons
  • Bosons
  • Gravitons.

Yep, those last ones…the gravitons.

If another massive particle encounters this field, it experiences a force that can be described in quantum terms as an exchange of virtual gravitons by the two masses. On the other hand, if a massive particle is accelerated, its gravitational field is ‘shaken’ to produce a gravitational wave that spreads out through spacetime from the particle.

We’re not talking about a pitcher and a catcher tossing a baseball. (My first and last sports metaphor.)

Does gravity change naturally?

Yes. We have recently observed gravitational waves in binary neutron star systems. NASA has a great video simulating the collapse of a binary star system. The LISA project should give us more detailed information.

From what we have seen or speculated, gravity does vary under certain circumstances. We talk about a ‘gravitational constant’. In fact, put gravitational constant in google, and you get:


But what we use as a constant, is really an estimation based on observation and assumption. Granted, it is a very, very precise estimation, but it’s not a fixed value.

The Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) sets the value for the gravitational constant. Bet that’s a fun job.

The recent Gravity Probe B NASA experiment helped to reenforce Einstein’s spacetime concepts.

As I understand it (very basically), they created some insanely accurate gyros, set them spinning in space pointed at a distant star, then observed the gyro drift off of the target. The experiments report uses great nerdy words like ‘frame-dragging drift rate,’ and ‘geodeticeffect.’

So, if mass does directly effect spacetime, can gravity be artificially effected?

Can gravity be changed artificially?

Who knows. We still haven’t ‘seen’ the particles that cause gravity. So,what would be the options?

  • Use a nearly infinite amount of energy to create huge amounts of mass-> gravity
  • If gravitons exist, and aren’t just mathematical anomalies, then perhaps they can be artificially generated, or focused like light.Align enough photons along a common line and they will burn a hole in a brick. So maybe the future is a ‘graviton-laser’ of some sort.

Interesting. What would a gravity laser do to a brick? Would it cause it to collapse on itself?

It took awhile for us to get to this point, but we are learning more and more about our world and our universe. Who knows what we’ll learn tomorrow or the next.

I got through the whole thing without making any dumb attraction jokes involving either Nathan Fillion or Megan Fox. Yeah!