Monday, October 17, 2016


The percursor

Modern Weather forecasting is simply amazing.  100 years ago, we would have had absolutely no warning.  Zero.  Yet in today's world, days ahead of time the forecasting models predicted that this amorphous blob of clouds (that happened to be a remnant of the western pacific typhoon, Songda), thousands of miles away, would morph into a tight little low with a central pressure of only 950-960 mb, and come very, very near to us.  Perhaps even directly over Seattle.

As the days wore on, the forecast sharpened and the storm track became better known ( a phenomenon well-known to our East Coast brethren and sisteren). 

The reality

In the final day or so, the storm tightened up - so much so that a difference of 25 miles in its track would make the difference between catastrophic hurricane force winds pummeling the Salish Sea, and only damaging winds.

As it turned out we got those 25 miles; we were spared.  But now some in the news media are having a field day criticizing the predictions (which, by the way,  they were happy to use to produce panic-inducing headlines...  and sales).  Given the difficulty of predicting the path and strength of this storm, and the disastrous consequences of not giving adequate warning, I for one was happy to be warned.  Warned enough to add extra docklines and fenders and to make sure that everything loose was tied down.

The reality was bad enough:

New record low measured aboard Eolian: 984 mb

New record wind speed measured aboard Eolian: 47 kt

We were warned that a bullet was heading our way, and as it turned out, we dodged it.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Damn Fish

We had visitors coming to the boat on Sunday.  So of course our galley sink stopped up almost entirely on Saturday.  Yeah, I tried the plunger, but if anything it made things worse.  Since we had had experience with fish swimming up our plumbing before, I suspected that this might be the case again...

So yesterday morning I tackled it - we can't go on washing dishes in the forward head sink forever...

My first thought was that the easiest approach would be to disconnect the hose from the sink plumbing under the sink.  This would allow me to isolate the problem to either the hose or the nearly inaccessible thru hull/seacock, or to the drain plumbing under the sink, where the diameter goes from 1-1/2" to 1" hose.  (One of my mechanic's rules is to always try the easiest or cheapest solution first.)

Well.  Since we all know that Murphy was a marine architect, you can guess that the "easy" approach was not so easy after all.  In fact, because of an intervening shelf that the plumbing passed thru, I destroyed almost everything in the plumber's nightmare above in getting the hose off. 

And no, the problem was not there.

Well, the hose was off, so I got out our sewer snake (don't all boats have a sewer snake?).  It easily ran down the hose all the way to the elbow on the thru hull. 

No joy.

Thankfully, Sebo's Hardware is just two blocks from the head of the dock, so I think you can imagine me, squatted down in the plumbing section, piecing together various fittings on the floor to try to make up a similar nightmare.  Sebo's is a very complete hardware - I was able to remake the plumbing and even replace the 2" sink strainer for only $28.

So where are we?

The sink plumbing is back together, shiny and new.  Sadly, it still doesn't drain. 

For now at least, we have decided to continue the use of the fwd head sink as the wash basin.  We have a haul-out scheduled for this spring - tackling the thru hull from the outside with a plunger (or worse, disassembling it) would be a lot easier with the boat on the hard than trying to use a plunger on it from the outside now, wearing a wet suit.

And who knows - maybe it will heal.  if it is a fish that is in there, maybe he leave on his own.  Or decompose.


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Opposite Perspective

We have anchored in Blind Bay and Indian Cove on Shaw Island countless times.  But other than the obligatory trips to the Shaw Island General Store for ice cream, we have never been on Shaw Island.

There was one exception however, when we took a hike from Blind Bay over to the campground at Indian Cove.  Now Shaw Island is not big - the hike is almost exactly 2 miles long.  When we did that hike, we promised ourselves that we'd repeat it some day, with backpacking gear and spend the nite at the campground.

We took the occasion of our 45th wedding anniversary to do just that last Thursday...

Backpacking on the ferry

When hiking on Shaw Island, you are likely to run into some of the residents...  residents who will not gracefully surrender right of way to you or car traffic.

On the way, you will pass this charming little hut, where someone is selling locally gathered seeds.  On the honor system, of course.

The campground is lovely.  There are 10 sites, most of which are on the edge of a 20 foot high bluff directly above the beach.  All are supplied with picnic tables and a fire ring (firewood is available).  Water spigots are not far.

And then there is the beach at Indian Cove, one of the nicest beaches in the Islands.

The view begs you to just sit and contemplate. 
So we had the opportunity to see the anchorages we are so familiar with, but from the opposite perspective - from land.

Finally, being the gadget nerd that I am, this trip provided the opportunity to try out some neat things that I had received from my son and daughter-in-law as presents...

Backpacker's beer - No one wants to carry the weight of a six-pack when backpacking.  But most of that weight is water.  What if you removed that water?  Yeah, that's the ticket!  It's real beer, with a real head, and it is as cold as your water source.  You won't believe how good it tastes!

Heating water for coffee... and charging my phone!

Unlike almost all of our backpacking campsites, This one on Shaw Island has cell service.  But the battery in my ageing iPhone 5s is failing and needs frequent transfusions of electrons to stay alive.  Imagine my delight then, at receiving this backpacker's pot!  Yes, it does indeed have a wire attached to it...  You see, the base of the pot is a thermoelectric generator, and creates electricity as long as there is enough temperature difference between the bottom of the pot and its contents.


Monday, September 26, 2016

A Plea For Help

Eolian is a ketch.  And her mizzen boom extends out considerably beyond the stern rail.  As you might expect, this makes putting the sail cover on the mizzen rather a difficult proposition.

For 19 years I have been standing on the stern bulwark, draping my right arm over the boom and inching my way out until my body is at nearly a 45° angle.  Then, using only my left hand, I have to make up the common sense fasteners at the end of the sail cover.  Not exactly the safest thing I could do.

And now, arthritis in my right shoulder is making that a painful activity as well, as you might imagine.  Combine this with the fact that besides me, the mizzen sail cover is also old and rapidly failing (will it survive the storms of winter?  Who knows?), and well it is obvious that something needs to be done.

It's new sail cover time.

And in the intervening 30 (40?) years since that sail cover was made, a new idea has appeared:  the Stack-pack sail cover.  It really is a new idea, and like all new ideas, there are still some kinks to be worked out in the design, for instance where the cover wraps around the mast.  A walk around the marina will show you that there are multiple ways to create a stack-pack cover, and that standardization has yet to occur.

Flush with my recent success with creating new roof panels for our bimini and dodger, I am going to tackle making a stack-pack cover for our mizzen.  But before I start a project like this, I need to have the whole design in my head.  And I am not there yet.

For me, the critical part of the design is the attachment of the lazy jacks to the cover.  Should there be straps that they tie to?  I've seen several like that, including the custom one that Ullman Sails made for the Sun Deehr 56 across the dock from us.  Wouldn't the design be stronger if the straps somehow wrapped around or supported the battens?  How to actually do that?  Should the batten be at the highest point of the side of the cover? Or down the side a little like on the Ullman cover?  If I support the sail cover with webbing wrapped around the batten, won't it naturally try to be the highest point of the cover?  See, my concept of the stack-pack is that the lazy jacks, the battens and the webbing form a framework, and that the fabric is just a cover for the framework.

Sailrite, my go-to gurus for marine canvas, have a video up covering construction of a stack-pack, but it appears that it was their initial design that they documented in the video.  Their lazy jack attachment was made by burning holes in the fabric and tying the lazy jacks thru them around the batten.  That satisfies my desire to have the lazy jacks support the batten, but seems unnecessarily crude.  And there is nothing to keep the lazy jacks from creeping up along the batten until they are at the upper edge of the burned holes in the fabric, and then pulling on the fabric, making wrinkles.

So.  This is a plea for help. 

I can't start the project until I solve this dilemma.  If anyone of my readers has a stack-pack sail cover that addresses this, or better yet has constructed a sail cover that addresses this, I'd love to see pictures of how it was made, in particular how lazy jack attachment and batten support were done.

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