Did you ever do it on a boat?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by DeBone 75, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. DeBone 75

    DeBone 75 Member

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    As I get older and closer to retirement I'm finding the North alot less interesting. My wife and I for as long as we have been married haved talked about moving to Florida when the time comes. 8 years yet. Recently we have been getting interested in sailing. More importantly the possiblity of "Living on Board". See "Latitudes and Additutes" magazine. So my question is, has anyone here ever lived on a sailboat and had a darkroom. I'm pretty sure my 10X10 Omega won't fit but I should be able to do the 4X5 ok, I hope. Plan would be a 45 to 54 footer.
     
  2. David William White

    David William White Member

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    You won't have much room to hang enlargements, so I'd take the LF cameras, skip the enlarger completely, and do contact prints, maybe even Pt/Pd up on deck. Now you've got me dreaming!
     
  3. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    I too love to sail, but I've had a few friends "drop out" to live on a boat and every one was back living on land within a year. Store the gear until you're sure!
     
  4. lns

    lns Member

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    Sounds awesome! I expect the trays would agitate themselves. :smile:

    I was just thumbing through "The New Darkroom Handbook" by Joe DeMaio, Robin Worth and Dennis Curtin at the library. My favorite part was a section on darkrooms of the famous. But he also included two pages on a fellow with a darkroom on his boat. So it's been done.

    -Laura
     
  5. Erik L

    Erik L Subscriber

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    I lived on a 40 foot sailboat back in the '80s moored off a marina at Captiva Island, FL. Space was at a premium to say the least. I couldn't imagine having any kind of darkroom unless your significant other is extremely tolerant. That being said, it was a lot of fun (unless I'm forgetting the bad parts). If you are into boating, another option would be to buy a house on a canal out to the Gulf and have the best of both worlds. Real estate on the Gulf coast is pretty cheap these days from what I understand from friends and relatives down there. House boats are another option with tons more room, but you are pretty much stuck at the dock or moored.
    Hey, you only live once:smile:
    erik
     
  6. DeBone 75

    DeBone 75 Member

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    Buying a place on land is kind of the idea. I've not completely talked my wife into just the boat. She said maybe a nice moblie home or Condo and the boat. Use the boat for extended sails. Month or two then walked on land for awhile. Again still a few years away but never too soon to start planning.
    "You won't have much room to hang enlargements".
    I don't hang many now.
     
  7. dances_w_clouds

    dances_w_clouds Subscriber

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    Well one thing I do know cameras and water and high humidity are not a good combination.
     
  8. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    In grad school I had a girlfriend whose dad liked to sail. Getting on with dad proved key to, er, getting IT on with daughter. He had a very large sailboat on Lake Ponchartrain. I hated that f**king boat. Got seasick every time we went out. Ponchartrain is shallow and choppy. A bellyful of gin and tonic, over the gunwales.

    I've piloted aircraft on instruments in choppy air, no problem. Can't go on a boat. Son wants to go deep-sea fishing; no dice. Went angling for redfish (I think it was) once in the Gulf, years ago. We dropped our lines and bottom-fished and watching those bobbers go up and down, I got queasy. Bent over the transom, caught a whiff of diesel exhaust, and I was immediately chumming the ocean.

    To each his own. I wish you luck with this, and hope you enjoy your retirement when it comes.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    The only time I have felt seasick was on a boat my brother was living on. It was tied up alongside another boat and the movement was random rather than the predictable up and down movement it would have at sea.

    I could tolerate quite bad movements at sea but this small but random movement meant I had to get off fairly quickly.

    I like the idea of self agitating trays though!


    Steve.
     
  10. John R.

    John R. Member

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    I can assure you that there will be significant issues. I have lived here for 30 years and presently live on a salt water sailboat access canal and have a 30 foot Cape Dory cutter a few feet outside my back door. Now, with that said I also ran my own marine business along with my photography and lab pursuits since living here in Florida.

    First of all, to obtain the space on board that you would need, in a specific boat, within the size range you mentioned, you pretty much would be limited to a center cockpit design to provide you the necessary space a small darkroom would require. In fact, you could probably combine a work area that would convert into a darkroom in the passageway between the main cabin and aft cabin. Another option is that you could also utilize one of the head compartments and you could do it in such a way to make the head area convertible in nature, easily changed from head to darkroom. Some custom mods would be obviously be required. Any space you would use should be as close to the center of the hull as possible fore and aft. This is why a passage way in a center cockpit design would be a good choice, especially if a head compartment is nearby so that you could use the sink if it is plumbed to contain the chems you would be using. Of course you could always add a sink set up in the passageway area if you wanted. You could always use the forecabin as your primary cabin and use the aft stateroom as your lab, but that is being really devoted!

    The space issue is just the tip of the iceberg you would be dealing with. Your greatest problem would be dealing with chemistry. Any sinks or drain basins you would use would absolutely have to be plumbed directly to a special gray water tank just for containment of the chems, not a typical waste tank. The chemical gray water tank would have to be designed to be easily removed from the boat as you would not be able to use a standard pump out facility and you certainly can't discharge any photo chemicals overboard. Safe storage of the corrosive chems is another factor. Aside from the chemical issue you really don't have any other huge issues to contend with except for humidity and mold (actually those are quite huge issues down here). You will also have to deal with condensation inside the boat during the winter months (nothing fresh movement of air can't resolve). The summers will be a real challenge for you. In a cruising boat of the size you are talking about you are going to have to run two central A/C units for certain, especially for liveaboard. You will die in there otherwise. Those units will have to run 24/7. However, some people run minimal A/C but that just causes all sorts of issues like mold growth inside lockers, cabinets and other closed off areas. My personal opinion is that mold is going to cause you all kinds of grief based on my experience in the marine field. Even with A/C, some components on an enlarger will rust unless you always keep up real good anti-corrosive maintenance practices. Keep in mind, the photo aspect is only a very small part of what you will have to deal with. The maintenance on a 40+ footer down here is huge. Don't think for a minute this is easy street down here. The climate is extremely brutal on everything. Your boat will take up all of your time to keep it properly maintained, it is a constant battle and you will always lose. Unless you are a millionaire or better, do not think for half a second this is paradise, or even close to it. Don't listen to the hype or be fooled by all the pretty pictures. It is not as blissful as people think, warm yes, blissful no. The first year on your boat will seem fabulous, then the reality will start to rear it's ugly head little by little, when one day you start to notice your halyards are turning kind of gray, the canvas is starting to look dingy, the GPS antenna is turning yellow, the teak is developing black spots, the bugs are getting into everything and making a mess, the maintenance products are leaking from their containers, things are starting to rust, plastic is starting to deteriorate, blah, blah, blah. ...... You get the idea. It's great in the beginning, but it doesn't last unless you wish to be a slave in labor and money. Anything down here takes a huge beating from the environment, cars, boats, buildings, anything outside and out of an air conditioned environment. Even in my house, with a superb A/C system that controls humidity levels, I keep equipment like lenses that I am not using sealed inside zip loc bags just to be on the safe side. I keep much of my equipment is sealed cases that are gasketed. It's worrisome enough to prevent equipment from humidity damage in a building here. On a boat, you have increased that challenge a hundred fold. The bottom line is you have a nice dream and it would be great to have the situation you desire but reality has different plans for you, that I can assure you of. Like I said, if you have tons of money and tons of time then you might be able to pull it off. But, your headaches of maintenance and deteriorated equipment and property will never end, guaranteed! The other problem you are going to have is trying to find a liveaboard location, they have all but disappeared with the rampant development of marinas and such into waterfront condo complexes. If you plan to cruise, take images and process them on board, you will discover there is very limited mooring times in community basins, most just don't allow stay overs for very long and liveaboards are pretty much out of the question in a mooring field. Today's Florida is nothing like it was 20 years ago. Now, it is all about developments and selling a dream, a hyped one at that. Before you buy a boat and start customizing to make provision for any photo use I strongly advise you to come down here and charter a 40 footer for a few weeks and cruise the state, do it during a span when you will be here during the heat of summer and during hurricane season. That way you will have a real world experience of what to expect during summer tropical heat, storms, rains, lightning, and a potential tropical threat from a hurricane or smaller system. If you are just planning to be around during the winter months, then you need to determine where you would keep your boat in the off season, how it would be maintained, and how it would be protected during a storm threat. Marinas are few, boat yards are really disappearing, developers take them over and convert them. Just getting a large boat serviced or hauled can be a huge issue in many areas of the state except for metropolitan areas like Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, Tampa/St. Pete, other areas can be next to impossible unless you want the yards to do work for you. Also, think about insurance regarding the idea of having photo chemicals on board and the Coast Guard may have something to say about it as well if you get inspected. Grand idea you have, I admit in the past when I was naive about Florida, similar ideas crossed my mind over the years, but there are two sides to the coin, the fantasy and the reality. You can definitely do it, no question about that. Simply, it comes down to how badly do you want to do it and what price are you willing to pay in dollars, frustration and work, work, work. No joke here, I am very serious about what you will be faced with.
     
  11. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Les,

    You might want to look up books by Eric C. Hiscock. He and his wife Susan sailed around the world at least three times in several boats. Wanderer II was a 24 foot wooden boat. Wanderer III was a 30 foot wooden boat. Wanderer IV was a Dutch steel boat, center cockpit, l.o.a. 49.5 feet, l.w.l. 40 feet, beam 12.5, draft 6.25 feet, displacement 20 tons. They supported all this by travel lectures and showing slides. I remember that in the last boat the forward cabin could be converted in port to a darkroom.

    The last book was published 1973. He died on that cruise. She took the boat home, but I do not think she cruised again alone or with another. The last book has four rows of 35mm color slides on the jacket. That book was “Sou’West in Wander IV”, Eric Hiscock.

    Other books in the series are: “Cruising under Sail”, “Voyaging under Sail”, “Beyond the West Horizon”, Around the World in Wanderer III”. I think there were more, but that is what I can find here. EBay, http://www.abebooks.com/ and the local library are possible sources. They are great for arm chair cruising and very informative how to bits and pieces in each chapter. They taught me a lot.

    I had a 24’ cruising sloop for 27 years. The first year we lived in Pittsburgh and kept the boat in downtown Erie with four more years in Ashtabula. Then we moved to Cleveland and kept the boat in Huron with easy access to the islands of western Lake Erie. In Erie that first year (1970) we met a couple passing through to the Caribbean who had built a 45 foot cement cutter. The deck looked like a tennis court. They were beer drinkers from Wisc. The galley sink had three spigots, hot water, cold water and beer from a keg.

    A sad thing to keep in mind is that boats and cars can be restored. Owners cannot. I sold the 24 footer to a fellow who was my age (34) when I bought the boat. He brought along his newly retired father who was five years older than I. After three visits the son bought the boat. His last question was, “The boat is in good shape, nice equipment, lots of spares. You tell stories of all the fun you had. Why are you selling the boat? I said all that stuff that was fun 27 years ago, big waves, high winds, long cruises, hurts now.” He said, “I don’t understand.” Before I could open my mouth his father said, “You will.”

    John Powers
     
  12. DeBone 75

    DeBone 75 Member

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    I thank all for the responses. I recently bought a 20 footer. Old, needs work. Have not had it the water yet. Prior to the day I bought it I had never even step on to a sailboat. However this has been a ongoing, building dream. Yes I still need to learn to sail, and yes it will be a major challange, but so are most things werth doing. Again still have 8 years.

    John I shall look for those books. Thank you.

    Some other reallities of life in the North. 4ft of snow on the ground from Dec. 1st to end of March.
    Salted roads. Most thing rust.
    Summer temps 90 + with 100% humidity.
    Tornados
    Lived in Maryland know about mold.
    Lived in Idaho know about heat 105 most days
    Lived in Alaska.
    Any part of the country has its good and bad. All depends on the willing additude. Right now it's willing. It 8 years it may not. I'm not going to wait till then to say ok what shall we do now. May just do the snow bird thing. Live here in Summer there in Winter. But one thing for sure, The cameras will always be with me. It's just a matter will the darkroom will be.
     
  13. Dave Pritchard

    Dave Pritchard Member

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    De Bone, you do have some perspective. I wonder if you really can make prints in a 20 ft. sailboat. I can believe that cameras can be managed, and that film can be processed in that environment. The image that comes to mind is a 20 foot sailboat, with a Dyer dingy hanging off the back, and that crammed with trays, a Graylab timer, and an Omega enlarger.

    Maybe you plan to tow a ferro-cement barge with your darkroom in it.

    BTW, I once dreamed of buying a Morgan 42 ft motor-cruiser, with actual round port-holes. I was going to live-aboard near Wilmington (Murfreesboro Inlet). Double-planked mahogany (sigh!).
     
  14. John R.

    John R. Member

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    You do have a perspective, but unfortunately you don't have a Florida perspective. I've lived in many places across this country and have experienced all the environmental conditions except Alaska. When I inform you Florida is far different, please believe me. Owning a 20 footer up north and a 45 footer down here can't even remotely be compared. Photography will challenge you here unless you are a photo snowbird. Of course, then you will be screaming in traffic because you will be late to make your location to get the good light. Oh yeah, then you have to cope with all the people who get in the way of your shooting process and compositions. One other thing, forget supplies, bring it all with you. Everything aside, do it on a trial basis first, then see if you have the willingness.
     
  15. DeBone 75

    DeBone 75 Member

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    "Owning a 20 footer up north and a 45 footer down here can't even remotely be compared"
    Wasn't trying to. Just stating that I'm just getting started. Also wasn't trying to infer that I want to put a darkroom on a 20ft boat. Just saying thats what I'm learning to sail with. I've been to Florida many times. Half my relatives have lived there at one point or another. Some most of there lives. I've never been through a Hurricane. Can't say I want to, but then I'm shure most anyone in the coastal areas don't want to either. I'm not a nieeve, ( gosh I wish I could spell), person. So getiing back to my original question.
     
  16. John R.

    John R. Member

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    Leslie...

    With the history of relatives having lived down here you would have a real good base from which to pick up a lot of important information about this climate and the effects it has on things. They should be able to confirm the general outline I presented on what you can expect. I don't know if any of them are boaters or photographers but the environmental effects can be seen on just about anything. Keep in mind, people always have different standards about things. I am pretty darned fussy. I don't like equipment that gets beat up, corroded, deteriorated in any way. That means I have to be very careful down here with cameras, lenses, other gear and everything involving a boat. The statements I made are based on that perspective, to maintain things to a quality degree it will require a great deal of maintenance, and costs. Equipment like cameras have to be extremely well cared for and protected here unless they are always indoors in air conditioning with humidity levels 50% or below. Just wanted you to be fully aware of what caring for a large boat is like down here. Even a small boat is constant maintenance. You mentioned hurricanes, you have to be well prepared to deal with one and everything has to be fully insured at all times. Insurance on a boat here is expensive and not easy to get. You need "all casualty" insurance on photo equipment here because homeowners will not cover most photo equipment and you definitely need federal flood coverage.
     
  17. mark

    mark Member

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    I run a boat repair shop. Believe them when they say constant work.
     
  18. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Not a bad idea at first, but after a while seems like more trouble than its worth.

    Jeff