Thursday, February 26, 2009

Art Shaves

Art from Phoenix Rising was the Resident Philosopher, opera singer/critic and Poet Laureate of G dock, and was berthed just a couple slips over from us. He also was one of the longest term residents of the dock, and so carried the heavy responsibility of Dock Historian as well. He was a reluctant bachelor with a full white beard (neatly trimmed, of course).

On several occasions, he had mentioned (with increasing frequency it seems) that it was his studied and professional observation that "the chicks go for the clean-shaven guys." As time went on, he began to focus more and more on his beard as the source of his bachelorhood. Not one to make a decision in haste, Art gave the subject a lot of thought over the months.

Apparently, on one very warm spring morning in 2001 when we were all out in our cockpits or on the dock in our PJs, the pressure rose to the point where action was demanded.

Art hauled all his neglected shaving gear out on the dock, set up on his dock box, and proclaimed that he was going to change his situation. We, of course, all gathered round to offer support... and wisecracks. And we all took what would be the last pictures of Art in full flower.

First came the electric beard trimmer, pressed into service as a beard mower. The whiskers flew.

There was a brief moment of weakness when some consideration was given to the goatee look (what do you think?) But eventually, Art soldiered on, and it all came off.

Then the clean-up pass with a conventional razor removed all the logging stubble. It had been a long time since those cheeks had felt the touch of a razor, or the breeze for that matter.

The final result. What do you think? Was this an improvement that would make Art more attractive to the fairer sex?

Postscript: Six months later, Art was married.

Post Postscript: The beard is back.

Voyage #3: Port Madison

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.

From Shilshole to Port Madison & back
5/15/1999 - 5/16/1999

Just a short little jaunt (4 miles across Puget Sound), but our first over-night at anchor in Eolian.

We pulled off the dock at about 11 AM in cool weather (50), without a hitch. I may actually be getting the feel for this. When we got out on the Sound, the wind was from the S at 10 kt, just as forecast. We engaged Otto (the autopilot) and unfurled the jib (really better done by two people), and then raised the mizzen for balance. This brought us to 3.8 - 4 kt on a perfect beam reach, with maybe 5 degrees of heel - perfect, tranquil sailing.

As we made our way across the shipping lanes, we were surprised as we were joined by 4 or 5 porpoises that zoomed back and forth across our bow and then back under to the quarter. They are FAST. And they look like one solid muscle. They know exactly when to open their blowholes to exhale/inhale - the blowholes were exposed above the water for only a fraction of a second, but that was long enough. Amazing, graceful, beautiful creatures.

Picking the Port Madison harbor out of the shoreline on the north of Bainbridge Island was a little tough, but there are no tricky shoals or rocks, so we made it OK. This is a very narrow bay that goes in southward for about 400 yards, then makes a sharp right turn to the west and goes the rest of a mile. We anchored in a little bight at the outside of the right turn, where the water was a little deeper - 14 feet.

We really had to pay attention to this, since at 23:00, there would be a -2 foot tide - that means that any charted depth of 8' or less would be insufficient at that time, when we would be sound asleep. So, the choice of anchorage was safely in 14 feet of water, which would be 10 or 12 feet at low tide.

Jane released the anchor, and for the first time since we have been aboard Eolian, she was at anchor. The bottom is sandy mud, and the Bruce anchor bit like a champ and never moved, even when the tide changed and we swung the other way. We let out about 75 feet of chain, which was probably excessive - we may have spent the night anchored to a pile of chain!

I put down the dinghy, and after a suitable liquid celebration, I rowed us to the back of the harbor and return (took about 2 hours). It is very narrow, and the back portion (charted depth of 6 feet is too shallow for us) is full of moorings. There was a sunk wood power boat that had just the end of its bow sticking out - kind of interesting to see something like that - and a little sobering too. It appears that people anchor everywhere in the harbor - there was no apparent traffic channel left open.

We slept like stones.

It was a little cool the next morning (no alarm clock!), so we ran the Dickinson heater for a while to take off the chill. But when I went to make espresso, I got a rude awakening. The #1 battery bank didn't have enough charge to run the espresso maker (thru the inverter). So, with no alternative, I started the generator and we recharged the batteries, made the espresso, and re-froze the holding plates in the refrigerator and freezer.

We raised anchor (the windless worked perfectly, and the washdown pump was just the ticket to keep from putting iodine-smelling mud into the chain locker). Note to self: It is better to not leave the hose nozzle laying on the dock box.

On the way back, we had the same 10 kt South breeze, and were able to reach back across the Sound. It was cooler, but still very enjoyable. Just outside Point Monroe, Jane sighted a grey whale - it blew twice, and gave us a view of its back and then disappeared. We briefly saw a couple of Orcas too - What a great weekend!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A schedule... sort of

I've been at this for nearly a month now. As you well know, I didn't really know what I was doing when I started (and I guess I still don't know much). But it is sort of settling in in my mind that the way things will go is something like this:
  • Sun nite or Mon: A project review of the weekend's work (which won't be nearly as big as the just-posted bowsprit article - that is 6 months work - so far), or some other project
  • Tue or Wed: Something from the logbook
  • Thur/Fri: Something else - rambling, factoids, profiles, etc.
So... If there is one kind of posting you dearly want to avoid, this should help you do that. At the least, it should give you an idea of what might be coming up...

Oh, and if there is something you'd like to see addressed, let me know!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Project: Replace the Bowsprit

The continuation of this project is being reported in the weekend project updates. To see them all, search on the label 'bowsprit'


We zap back to the present, because I am itching to talk about what is going on right now, in this Project segment. I would like to catch you up to the present so that I can talk about the weekend's ongoing progress on Sunday evenings or Monday mornings.

At the end of August last summer, while at anchor in Port Madison, I noticed that some of the paint immediately ahead of the inner forestay pad eye was flaking up. So I dug at it with a pocket knife. It didn't take long to dig a hole a couple of inches deep, because the mahogany bowsprit had turned into mulch, presumably due to all the water entry into its interior from the originally failed fitting (subject of another post, sometime).

You'll note that the quarter is standing up on its own... it wasn't hard to do. I just pushed it into the mulch. Time for a new bowsprit, before the mast comes down.

First of all, we decided to not try to go thru the winter storms without an effective forestay on the main mast (the forestay attaches to the end of the bowsprit, and keeps the mainmast from falling over backward). So I made up a temporary bowsprit from a pressure treated 6x6. The biggest challenge in this job was getting the three holes for the main mounting bolts (OK, 1/2" stainless all-thread) in exactly the right place so that the tip of the bowsprit ends up in just the right 3D location to keep the forestay tight. It was good practice for when I would have to do the real thing.

In a marathon session, we pulled the old bowsprit and replaced it with the temporary. This was a difficult job, since the multiple pieces of all-thread holding the bowsprit to the deck (3 main mounts, 4 for the anchor windless, 2 for the original inner forestay attachment, 3 running horizontally for the Sampson posts) had to be removed. A few of these came out by double-nutting them and backing them out with a wrench. But most needed a stud puller (rented), or in the case of the two for the original inner forestay attachment, the sawzall was the tool of choice. Boy, the old bowsprit was heavy! It was saturated with water. With a lot of help from the other men on the dock, we got it off the bow and onto a dock cart.

Eolian is happily weathering the winter storms with the temporary. I am certain that there is more sound wood in the temporary than was in the rotted original.

The original bowsprit was made up of two huge pieces of mahogany (approximately 5"x10"x10 feet long) laminated together. The new one is a lamination too, but instead of mahogany, I used pressure treated lumber to try to hold back the rot potential. To reach the size needed, I laminated six 10' pressure treated 2x10s, using glass-filled epoxy resin and a bazillion clamps. Before bonding, both surfaces got a coat of unfilled epoxy brushed on so that the resin would be able to penetrate the surface.

To do everything I could to prevent reversing right for left, or drilling a hole leaning the wrong way, I have kept the original bowsprit on the sawhorses right next to the new one as it is formed.

So next, the blank needed to be trimmed and tapered. After carefully laying out the shape of the sides on the top and bottom of the blank, I rolled it over so that one of the sides was upright. Then I made saw kerfs across it, holding the depth of cut just shy of the line. This required frequent adjustments to the depth of cut, and about 500 cuts (on each side...). Then with a hammer, I broke off the "fins" between the cuts.

Finally, a marathon session with a power planer smoothed the rough surface to the line, and a final pass with a belt sander made it pretty by taking out the planer marks.

Then roll it over and do it all again on the other side.

The bottom cut was last. Matching the original bowsprit, there is no top cut - all the taper is taken off of the bottom.

Unfortunately, the depth of cut needed on the bottom (being about twice that needed on the sides, since it is all on one side) was too much by far for the saw-kerf method. Luckily, I have an Alaskan chainsaw mill (used for making timbers from freshly felled trees). It was the perfect tool for the job.

Then clean up with the power planer and the belt sander, as for the sides.

The original bowsprit was tapered full length on the bottom, and was then mounted on a tapered shim (teak, thankfully - it never rotted) to compensate for the taper. This was apparently a design error, corrected in the field as the boat was constructed. I made the new bowsprit with no taper for the first section to eliminate the need for the shim. Making the transition between the tapered forward section and the straight aft section was tricky. I used a hand chisel for most of it, but ended up using the nose of the belt sander (and a couple of belts) to get a nice swoopy transition contour.

OK, so now I had a blank with the right shape and dimensions. Now all I had to do was drill 19 holes, in exactly the right locations, at exactly the right angles so that when the new bowsprit is mounted, it will be located just like the old one. The original holes were drilled by hand after positioning the bowsprit in the correct location. This technique was fine for an initial installation, but makes it hard to duplicate hole alignment for a replacement.

A lot of careful measurement, layout and templating got me the locations, but I needed a jig to guide the ship auger at the correct angle so that it would come out of the bowsprit 8" away at just the right place. After some thought, I buit this jig. It allows me to set the angle in one plane - which is enough if I rotate the jig properly.

Then I cobbled together a transfer jig to show where the hole will come out when it is drilled. This jig holds two short pieces of tubing in alignment, and allows placement of the upper piece of tubing in direct line with the drillling jig and auger. The lower piece of tubing (out of sight below the old bowsprit here) then acts as a gunsight, showing where the auger will exit. It is ugly, and it takes about an hour to set up for each hole by trial and error, but it works.

The 19 holes are now all drilled. I completed the last of them this weekend.

On this last Saturday, I began the task of fashioning a 4" diameter cylinder on the tip to accommodate the cranse iron. No fancy tooling here. I am using a hammer, wood chisel, sureform plane, belt sander and a palm sander. And a short length of 4" heavy PVC sewer pipe as a gauge to know when to stop removing material. I wish I had the actual cranse iron to do this, but unfortunately it is occupied, holding up Eolian's mast.

The continuation of this project is being reported in the weekend project updates. To see them all, click on the label 'bowsprit' just below.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


Eolian weighs more than 50,000 pounds with all the liveaboard stuff onboard, 300+ gallons of water and 300+ gallons of fuel.

How to put this in perspective?

  • Here's one way: when I turn into the marina, making about 4 knots, I put the transmission in neutral, and coast half a mile to the waterway at G dock.
  • Here's another: Our previous boat was an O'Day 25, which weighed about 4500 lb, about the same as a large SUV. This is considerably less than the weight of just the water and fuel we carry, and less than half of the weight of our ballast: 12,000 lb.
  • Those of you with experience in smaller boats would have a tendency to put your hand out to control the hull of the boat as you close with the dock, easing the impact. Doing this with Eolian is more like putting out your hand to control a semi backing into a loading dock.
  • When you step onboard from the dock, she doesn't really notice - no rocking, no rolling. She doesn't care where you position yourself on deck or below - your puny weight is beneath her notice.
So, when your job is to steer the boat into the dock, misjudging the speed even a little will undoubtedly cause some kind of damage - the magnitude of the forces is too large for it to be otherwise. The very first time I docked, I knew I had to compensate for the increased momentum that Eolian carried in excess of the O'Day 25. Nevertheless, even knowing this, I still badly underestimated it, and blew up a fender. These are the large ones - 10" in diameter and 30" long, and cost $90 each. Popped it like a balloon. But it died successfully protecting the hull (There - I admitted it in public).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

m/v Challenger

Jerry Brown, captain and owner of Challenger, certainly qualifies as a bona fide Seattle "character".  Challenger was moored at the end of the dock at Fairview Marina at the south end of Lake Union, a couple of slips from Eolian's berth.

The Challenger, a 1944 96' wooden tugboat, was the center of Jerry's business - he ran a "Bunk and Breakfast" out of Challenger's refurbished cabins; Jerry also had a smaller tug, the Gillspray and a couple of more or less modern 40' power boats tied up in the suite of slips on which he had managed to get a 20-year lease (how, I cannot imagine).

Jerry lived on Challenger with his bouvier Scupper, bunking in a small compartment up under the bow. Jerry was the host, the cook, the cabin boy, and the crew of the Challenger. And Jerry was a businessman. Because of his long tenancy at the dock, he was the defacto dock captain as well. I remember one cold winter day when the exposed water feed pipe for the dock froze, and he and I cut and spliced the pipe, in the cold, with water spraying over us - well, I guess Jerry got a lot wetter than I did. But then he had paying customers aboard Challenger who were going to wake up and want to take a shower.

Jerry was outspoken. There were those who could not tolerate that. But he was also very personable (how else could he have made a very successful go of the bunk and breakfast business?). Jerry was a dreamer - he always had Plans For The Future, and they were not small plans. The fall before we left Fairview, he revealed that he had done a ton of research and was more than considering buying a surplus Navy ship and scaling up the business as well as moving it to Florida.

Getting ready to leave, he had found a buyer for Gillspray (a father and son team that planned romantically to renovate her). And then he found a buyer for Challenger and the business. This about when we moved from Fairview to Shilshole, and we lost day-to-day touch with Jerry.

But from occasional contacts, we learned that when the City of Seattle got wind of the change of ownership, they came down on things like a ton of bricks. The sale was rescinded, and Jerry gave a lot of money to lawyers. In the end, 3 years later I think, he prevailed. He was awarded his legal costs, but the sale of Challenger was long gone.

Jerry has since passed away, and Challenger, last we saw her, was tied up looking forlorn on the south side of the Ship Canal.

Jerry never made it to Florida.

RIP m/v Challenger


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Project: Mizzenboom Gooseneck

July 2004


Over the Memorial Day weekend, while sailing east of Cutts Island in Carr Inlet, the mizzen boom gooseneck broke while I was sheeting in the mizzen. Luckily, I was able to get the boom under control and the sail down before any further damage occurred. This was not a hard sail, and there had not been a lot of strain on the fitting.

Inspection of the failure showed that the fitting had been broken for a long time, and that it was apparently only the corrosion products which were holding it together. In a failure like this, there will usually be a small area of bright metal - the last piece of sound metal which was holding things together when the break finally occurred. Not so here - it is ALL corroded.

I purchased a new gooseneck fitting from a local Le Fiell distributor (the company that made our spars) - it is a stainless investment casting.

Getting the axle portion of the old fitting out was a very tough job. It was corroded into place solidly - it would not allow the boom to rotate. First I simply tried to drive it into the boom - not a chance, even when using my 6 lb hand sledge. Next, I drilled a series of holes right next to it, all the way around, trying to release the tension on it. No chance.

Finally, using a sabre saw, I cut all the way around the portion of the casting containing the stainless axle. It was an ugly job, costing 3 blades, but finally it was out.

Next, I had a piece of 3/8 aluminum drilled to accept the gooseneck fitting (at that time, I didn't have any drill bits large enough), and trimmed it to fit on the end of the boom. Then, I drilled and tapped holes in the remaining portion of the casting, and overdrilled holes in the plate to match. After countersinking, the plate was screwed onto the remains of the casting.

After attaching the fitting to the plate, the plate is permanently attached to the end of the boom using the screws, locktite and 5200. After a final touchup with the angle grinder, it is painted, and is as good as new (well, maybe better...)


Friday, February 13, 2009

From the log: Voyage #2

Back to the past - to early 1999 in this case.

For the larger part of that first year aboard, I was a boat bachelor. Consequently, Eolian did not leave her slip during that time, until Jane came to stay as well. But even then, we did not go thru the locks into Puget Sound, but rather went East into Lake Washington, where on both occasions, we found no wind.

At a Christmas party aboard Challenger (which was tied at the end of the Fairview Marina dock) Greg from Patriot, who had been moored right next to us in our slip at Fairview, talked about his recent move to the Shilshole Bay Marina, out on the Sound. He said that the wait list was down to zero, and encouraged us to apply. We did, and were told that we had our choice of slips, available immediately!

This old log entry shows an increasing confidence in our boat handling abilities - confidence that my memory of those times says really wasn't warranted.

Saturday, Jan 30, 1999

Yeah, a dinky little trip like this should not even be recorded. But it is really the first time Eolian has been off the dock in over a year (not counting two abortive sailing trips to Lake Washington). We had really spent way too much time at the dock.

We had agonized over the timing of the trip - our old slip lease expired on 1/31 (Sunday), so it would be financially inconvenient to wait a week to make the move. But the weather forecasts were terrible! For both Saturday and Sunday. Well, when we woke up Saturday to calm winds, we decided to take advantage, given my novice status driving this big girl. The weather was cold (right at freezing), and raining (of course... this is Seattle).

I did very well in backing out of the Yale Street marina - and I learned that the strong tendency to turn to port while backing can be almost eliminated if I would just open the throttle in a burst (rather than trying to be gentle and leaving it at idle), and then slip it into neutral (thrust overcoming the unbalanced torque effect?).

I learned that, even if it is not at the moment raining, it will be under the Aurora bridge - in big fat drops.

We had the good fortune of having a brand new Bavaria 42 ahead of us, opening the bridges for us. No waiting.

By the time we got to the locks, my hands were numb. The rest of me was warm & dry (using our new foul weather gear), but my bare hands got really chilled in the cold rain. Jane and I had very productive discussions about procedures and anticipating what might happen at the locks. So when the lock master directed us to the starboard side (I had been anticipating the port side), we moved like a team and got rigged for the other side quickly and efficiently. I managed to bring Eolian to a stop, in contact with the lock wall, about 3' short of where the lock master wanted us finally. Perfect.

We went thru with the Bavaria and 3 other boats - it was crowded in there. Because we were going to the sea, and therefore starting at the top, the lock workers were able to help everyone get tied up. As the water was drained from the lock chamber, we sank, and the chamber filled up with diesel fumes from the idling engines (I had never thought of that before...) While we were dropping, Jane visited the cabin, and reported that the Red Dot heater (uses hot water from the engine) had the cabin toasty warm.

Jane got kudos from the lock workers... it seems that a woman on one of the other boats had trouble freeing a mooring line from one of the bits in the lock - she was chided 'To the galley with her'... but Jane flipped the bow line off the bit with one deft motion, and yelled back (pointing to me) "HE'S going to the galley"

When we reached bottom and they opened the downstream doors, we drove out into fresh air... that smelled of the sea! I was ecstatic.

Getting to the sea was a true transition. It was a very strong sensation - we knew we were home, where we belonged. Pulling into our assigned slip, still in very light winds, was just like driving the old O'Day 25 into her slip on Coeur d'Alene. Piece of cake. I brought her to a stop and Jane just stepped off onto the dock with the spring line. Maybe I am getting the hang of this... but we need a LOT more practice - in less than ideal conditions too.

The very next day the wind picked up to gale force (35+ mph), and it has been there since. That single day was the only window of opportunity in 2 weeks - and counting.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Rare indeed is the time when you arrive at an anchorage, and there is no one in there ahead of you. Therefore, what you do, and how you do it can either be an example to others, or the evening's entertainment for them. Some things that we think provide entertainment:
  • Driving the boat from the bow. This is when the captain relinquishes the helm to another, and proceeds to the bow to tend the anchor. From this perch a long way from the helmsman, who incidentally is standing nearly directly over the engine, he shouts his directions. "Ahead!" "No! No, I said astern! NOW! D@#n It!"
  • Plowing the anchorage. When you have a light weight anchor (like a Danforth), the trick is to let it settle to the bottom before you begin dragging it at high speed, plowing a furrow all over the bottom.
  • Failure to pay attention to the charts and the depth sounder. By definition, anchoring has the boat in shallow water. You would think that people would know how shallow, and where, or at least proceed tentatively until they do know...
  • Failure to take into account scope and swing. This is perhaps the hardest aspect. Boats at anchor do not lie uniformly directly downwind from the anchor. They tack back and forth, thus the origin of the expression "swinging to anchor". And then there is current. Usually, unless the wind is very strong, boats will pay more attention to any tidal current present than to the wind. But this will vary depending on the boat. A sleek racing sloop, with a deep keel and low topsides will respond mostly to the current, while a high-sided powerboat with little lateral area in the water will respond mostly to the wind. Finally, because of the difference in weight, boats riding to a chain rode will be more sedate than those riding on a rope rode - those seem to slew all over the place!
I don't mean to imply that we always get it right - not so. But this is what we attempt to do:
  • I stay at the helm. Jane releases the anchor and tends the rode as it pays out. This eliminates the communication problem and attendant confusion - all that is required is a hand signal from the helm to the bow indicating: "Here." We discuss ahead of time the expected scope we will require based on water depth.
  • If this is an unfamiliar anchorage, we study the charts ahead of time, and try to determine where we will anchor. When we get there, we take a slow harbor tour, watching the depth sounder. Once we have the depth contours, we can determine the scope we need. In the bow we carry 300' of 3/8 chain for the primary anchor (a 66 lb Bruce). With this ground tackle, we use a 3:1 scope for most situations. This means that we put out a length of rode equal to 3 times the depth of water we will see at the highest tide we expect to see while in the anchorage. This takes a little guesswork because we rarely arrive at high or low tide, but the Rule of Twelfths handles it nicely.
  • I bring Eolian to a stop, facing the same direction as nearby boats in the desired location for the anchor, and signal Jane. She veers rode, and signals me when we have enough out to reach bottom. By then, I have Eolian moving slowly backwards so that the rode does not pile up on top of the anchor. When Jane halts the rode payout, we both watch for the rode to stretch out and the bow to come up into the wind (by now, Eolian will be moving broadside to the wind - for some reason, boats drifting downwind do so broadside to the wind). Finally (and this is a critical step), we both maintain watch long enough to be certain (by taking bearings on shore objects) that we are solidly hooked to the ground. Then we share a ceremonial beer.
  • Ah, but where exactly to drop the hook? This is perhaps the most difficult part. When selecting the spot, we like to anchor among like-sized boats with the same kind of rode. That way, we can expect that everyone will move more or less the same. We anchor as far from others as we can - no one likes to have to worry that there will be a "thump in the night". I estimate our swing from the scope in terms of our boat lengths, and visualize it as a circle. The I put the anchor in the center of that circle.
  • Other than during a gale when someone breaks loose, the most likely time for a collision is when there is no wind at all, and at slack water. At this time, the boats will be anywhere within the circle defined by their rode, and if the circles overlap, collisions can happen. In the way of such things, these conditions seem to happen mostly in the middle of the night.
Once we are solidly hooked, we join the others in the anchorage, enjoying the evening, the setting sun, a glass of wine, and new boats as they come in, to impress us, or to entertain us.

Anchoring in Canada is whole 'nother subject.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hardly working

Sheila aboard Tropic Star snapped this picture one summer day. We carry the dinghy on davits at the stern, but when the weather is nice, and we don't have anything we have to do, we like to put it down and just spend some lazy time in it. See, if you position yourself athwartships, the tubes are just the right distance apart so that you can put your feet up on one side, and lean back comfortably on the other. Complete the picture, if you will, with a cold adult beverage or two, a paperback book, and share it with your life's companion. Every now and then, you have to unship the oars and row away from the dock as you drift about. Others are out, working on their boats, and you might have a leisurely conversation with them as you drift by (thus the title which Sheila applied to this picture). It's a great way to spend an afternoon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Project: Replace the water heater

December 2008 - January 2009

Eolian has a water heater - life onboard would be difficult without one, But this is not the 50 gallon monster you'd find in a house. This one holds 6 gallons, and is electrically heated (10 amps, 110VAC). However, to provide hot water when we are off the dock, there is a separate coil around the tank through which the cooling water for the engine circulates, when the engine is running. Since the engine has a 160 degree thermostat in it, it can get the water in the tank quite hot! But it takes about an hour of engine run time for this to happen. If we have been off the dock doing a lot of sailing and using the engine sparingly, showers onboard don't take very long!

The water heater is located below the dinette seating, on the port side of the boat.

While working on another project (subject for a future post...), I broke off the fitting on the hot water heater where the hot water exits... because I was laying on it. Aside from me getting severely scalded as a result, we discovered that the water heater was failing - the interior was filled with rust. And Jane pointed out that the hot water had been orange for some time.

Time for a new heater. Before the old one (30 years old!) ruptured.

The old heater was about 15" square by 19" long. This posed a problem, since the opening in the settee hatch was only 13.5" wide. After disconnecting the 110V connection, the hot and cold water connections, and the engine heat exchanger connections, and freeing the water heater from the compartment floor, I tried to cut it in half using a sawzall. It was going to take a long time, and the sawzall was difficult to control in the tight quarters. This attempt was abandoned.

A question I always ask myself in these situations is, "So how did the builders get it in there back in 1978?" A close examination of the edge of the hatch opening reveals the truth: They cut a segment out of the seat, and re-attached it. The factory had access to the gelcoat that all the white interior pieces are covered with, so they were able to hide the cut/repair pretty well. But stress cracks revealed the presence of the cut/splice.

Since the boat builders had done it that way, I followed their lead and cut a segment out of the settee seat base to allow the extraction of the old unit (you will note that I made the end cuts at 45 degrees, so that when the cutout piece is re-glued in place with epoxy, it will be supported). It was then dead easy then to lift out the old tank.

The new heater is much smaller - just 13"x13"x16", even tho it has the same capacity as the old one: 6 gallons. I suppose this can be attributed to nearly 40 years of improvement in insulation, and to the more form-fitting aluminum tank instead of a cylindrical steel one. And the size of the new heater allows more storage in the compartment, and will allow extraction in the future through the seat hatch without requiring cutting again.

It looks pretty nice mounted down there, and is producing beaucoup hot water (no longer orange) for us. The engine hot water lines are not yet hooked up in this picture.

The repair to the cutout was not difficult. I mixed up some epoxy, thickened it with chopped fiberglass strand and microballoons, and troweled it onto the mating surfaces (after suitable masking). The masking allows for a clean-looking repair when you have to wipe off the inevitable drips, runs and smears. I clamped a saranwrap-wrapped board underneath to hold everything in good alignment while the epoxy cured.

With a huge effort, I could probably color-match some gelcoat and use it to hide the splice. Some day, I may do that. When it is the highest thing on the priority list.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Gap

OK, so I have brought you from the inception of the idea thru the search, to its fruition and voyage to slip #13 at Fairview Marina in South Lake Union, in the heart of downtown Seattle, and an introduction to Eolian herself.

But there are 11 years between then and now, and there is stuff going on now too. So, how do I cover the current events, while still bringing you forward thru the intervening 11 years?

I said in the introductory post that I would try to keep two threads going, one from the past, and one which was current.

We have also had a brief intermezzo. There will be more of these to come.

I think it is now time to switch threads, to the present. We'll leave the 1997 version of Eolian tied to her slip in Lake Union, and visit the 2009 version, tied up in slip G61, out at the end of G-dock at Shilshole Bay Marina.

Since the weather has been too unpleasant for sailing (and because of yet another project), and as I mentioned earlier, the winter social life is at its nadir, this is a good time to take care of projects. So, this jaunt on the Present Thread will cover a project that we accomplished last month.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Welcome to Eolian


is a Downeast 45 ketch, manufactured by Downeast Yachts in 1978 in Costa Mesa California.  Originally named Sequoia, her second owners renamed her Malolo.   We used John Vigor's proper De/ReNaming ceremony to rename her to Eolian in October 1997, when we became her latest owners.  (By the way, if you are reading this and know anything about Eolian when she was named Sequoia or anything about her original owners, we would very much like to hear from you - they did a superb job of layout and fitting out.)

Vital Statistics
  • Length, overall: 52'
  • Length, on deck: 45'
  • Length, waterline: 36'
  • Beam: 14'
  • Draft: 5'9"
  • Displacement: 39,000 lb
  • Ballast: 12,000 lb (lead, internal)
  • Sail area: 1100 sq ft
  • Fuel: 320 gallons
  • Water: 320 gallons
  • Waste: 45 gallons

There were 28 or 29 Downeast 45s manufactured altogether.  For the time, this was a quite a large boat, and every one was semi-custom.  Although there was a suggested factory layout for the interior, most of the boats had some departure from that stock interior.  As the layout shows, the stock boat had 3 cabins and two heads (bathrooms).  The aft cabin (back of the boat) had a private head, but it was split with the sink and the toilet and shower in separate compartments.  There was a single hanging locker in each of the cabins.

The original owner of Eolian spec'ed out a slightly different interior.  First, there are only two cabins.  The aft cabin now has a queen-sized berth, and the head compartment is enlarged to contain all the facilities.  And now there are two hanging lockers in each of the two cabins.  Next, the foward head is moved to the port (left) side of the boat, into the space where the second cabin was, making it much more spacious.  Where the head was in the stock layout, an office with a built-in swivel chair and bookcases was installed.

Now you probably will be thinking that we prefer the layout we have, simply because we have it.  Not so.  In fact, two of the key selling points for the boat were the office, and the raised settee and table, which allowed a person seated at the table to enjoy the view out the windows.  Over the years, I have collected pictures showing the interiors of 11 other Downeast 45s, and I have studied them in detail.  There is none that I would exchange for Eolian's layout.

So let's take a quick tour of the below-decks spaces.

Forward Cabin
The Forward Cabin
The forward cabin has a vee-berth (that is, one end comes to a point), and two hanging lockers, one of which is just visible at the right of the image.  There are also a total of 6 drawers, and additional cabinet storage.  The chain locker (where the anchor rode is stored) is behind the doors at the bow.

Forward Head
The Forward Head
The forward head also opens to the main cabin thru a separate door.   It is equipped with the usual amenities.

The Office
Just forward of the main saloon, on the port side is the office.  Here is plenty of convenient storage for books and reference materials, as well as a desk for the laptop.

The Galley
There is a 3-burner propane stove with oven, a microwave (under the stove), a deep double sink, a built-in freezer compartment (not visible - its a top-loader, to the right of the sink), and a built-in refrigerator (the large black door).  Oh yeah, and the espresso machine is USCG required equipment too.

Saloon to port
Saloon to stbd
The Saloon
Now, there is a little story about this.  Some time during Prohibition, folks apparently thought that the traditional name for the main gathering area on a boat, the "Saloon", would give the wrong impression about activities that might be expected there (really?).  So they changed it to "Salon".  I like the traditional name.  Note that when you are seated at the table, you are ideally positioned to enjoy the view out the large cabin windows.  This design was a novelty in 1978, and has only recently been recognized as having merit.  In the way of all marketing departments everywhere, a new name was coined for something which already exists.  A boat with large windows and raised seating in the main cabin is now called a "Deck Saloon" (note the return of the missing 'o').

To port is a settee which can be pulled out to make a double berth.  It is not raised.  The liquor locker is behind the stained glass doors

Aft cabin
The Aft Cabin
The aft cabin is equipped with a queen-sized berth, two cedar-lined hanging lockers 5 large drawers and various other cabinet storage.  There is also a small vanity to starboard (left in the picture, as I was facing aft when I took it).

Aft head
The Aft Head
The aft head is private to the aft cabin.  (I should have straightened the towels before I took this picture.)

Cabin sole
Cabin sole
Throughout the boat the cabin sole is the traditional "teak and holly", heavily varnished. Teak is a fairly soft wood (about like cedar), and was therefore traditionally laid in narrow strips separated with even narrower strips of holly, a very hard wood, to protect the teak.  I apologize for the quality of these pictures.  It is difficult to take pictures inside a boat without using a fish-eye lens, which then severely distorts perspectives.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

From the log: The first voyage

It was quite an adventure. I must preface everything I say with the caveat that we got a lot of boat for the money. The corollary to this is that some of the boat that we got isn't all there. That said...

Saturday, November 1, 1997
We arrived in Bellingham in the late afternoon, tired after the looonnngg drive from Spokane. We bought enough provisions to get thru a few days, unloaded a Blazer-load of stuff onto Eolian, and settled in for the evening. Task 1: get the refrigerator working. After some arbitrary experimenting, we found that the breaker marked "Refrigerator" didn't turn on the refer, nor did the breaker marked "Freezer" turn on the refer or the freezer, but if both were on, then the refer and the freezer would come on. 20 years of hacked wiring and a harbinger of work to come...

We had a nice dinner, and turned in early.

Today was devoted to familiarization. I pored over the blueprints and crawled thru the bilges trying to learn everything I could. My primary objective was to find out how much fuel we had on board (the Previous Owner had said that there was more than 100 gal in each of the tanks), how much water, and how much waste in the holding tank. After 4 very frustrating hours, we found: the 2 water gauges don't work. The two fuel gages don't work. There is no way to tell if the holding tank is full, other than the sudden presence of a bad odor when the head is flushed. I also found yet another 2 anchors, a spare prop, and more storage than I could have imagined.

We wanted to move the boat from the broker's slip to the visitor's dock so that we would have an easy time of leaving on Monday morning, and I wanted some practice in boat-handling... with the bowsprit and the davits, the boat is 52' long. Adding the rubber dingy to the davits makes nearly 60 feet. Getting this out of the slip at the broker's was NOT easy. I didn't hit anything, and only had to back up once... when the handline on the dingy caught on the fire hydrant on the dock, and stretched the dingy like a rubber band. The line broke, but the dingy still holds air - this is one time when rotten rope was a good thing... Docking at the visitor's dock was pretty much uneventful, although I should have approached much more slowly. I misjudged the balance between windage and momentum (the wind was blowing pretty strong at that point). Momentum rules. Big time.

We experimented with lighting the Dickenson cabin heater, and found it to be very capable of keeping the cabin toasty warm when the temp is in the 30's outside.

We pulled away from the dock at about 7:30 (not yet on island time...) and headed south under engine power. One of the early tasks - in the first couple of hours - was to get the primary autopilot working. We had the remote on a long cable, but still needed to find the main control panel in order to make the remote operational. When we did find it (in the back of the cockpit, behind one of the cushions), the auto pilot was a real blessing. It allowed us the freedom to move around (yet still keeping a lookout for logs - there are lots of these).

The plan was to go south thru the Swinomish Passage, rather than to go all the way around Whidbey Island. This is a neat little cut, that goes from east of Anacortes down to LaConner in the south. The entrance at either end of the passage is dredged thru tidal mud flats, so it is critical to pay attention to the buoys/markers/lights, etc. Just at the north end of the passage, the engine coughed a couple of times, and quit. BIG PANIC. I charged Jane with deciding when the anchor needed to go down to keep us off the mud, as we were drifting in that direction due to tidal current, and I went below. My first thought was that there wasn't really 100 gallons of fuel in each of the tanks, so I switched from port to starboard tank. rrrrrrrrrrr... nothing. Next, a little tickle in the back of my head made me look at the operating notes that the owner had left. Sure enough, in getting the Dickenson heater working last night, I had left the valving in a configuration which forced all the diesel to go thru a small electric fuel pump *before* it went to the more than adequate filter bank ahead of the engine. See, there is this little tiny screen in the pump, and the smallest chunk of glop will plug it off... So some valving changes were made, and rrrrrrrrr... nothing. Next part of the process: gotta bleed the air out of the fuel system. Talk about learning under pressure! I had brought my tools with me (good thing... there wasn't even a screwdriver on board), and I bled the pump... rrrrrrrrrrrr... nothing. Knowing that you have three battery banks, fully charged, is a comforting feeling. Last resort... crack the line feeding the highest injector... pssttssttsst a bunch of bubbles came out. rrrrrrr... rumblerumblerumble! Its a good thing that we hadn't made it to the shallow water. Learning how to operate the anchor windlass under panic conditions would not have been good. I will now *always* check the fuel valving before we leave. I also have on my to do list to re-plumb the entire fuel system. There are enough valves down there to run a nuclear power plant.

LaConner was beautiful, making the long putt down the passage well worthwhile. At the southern end, looking back between high cliffs, there is a graceful steel arch bridge over the passage, and pure white Mt. Baker was framed in it.

I will leave out the other hours of the trip, except to say that the warm, cloudless skies couldn't have been more ideal... kind of unbelievable for November weather.

Unfortunately, the trip is more than a day long. We had decided to overnight in Everett, given where we were. But we didn't make it in daylight. So we turned on the running lights (can you guess?) nothing. Not wishing to drop parts into the sea, and knowing that there was very little traffic, we just barged ahead, using a flashlight bungeed to the stern pulpit, and running the one functioning spreader light.

Picking up navigation markers at night with a backdrop of city lights is *hard*... but you must do it, since the entrance to Everett is a dredged channel. The buoy marking the point where you must turn into the channel is yellow, and has a yellow flashing light on it. Kind of hard to pick out against all those flashing yellow lights on construction barricades, etc. on shore. But we made it without incident, although finding the marina was not too easy. The ever-present restaurants made it easier. Docking was pretty neat... the channel is actually a river bed, and there is a substantial current - maybe 2 knots. So I just idled ahead at 2 knots (stationary with respect to the shore) and slowly sidled up against the dock. One of the people on the dock actually complemented us on our landing... if he only knew...

It turned out that we tied up directly across from one of the Cooper 416's we had looked at... This put the cap on it... there is no question that we got the right boat.

More fun finding the inverter and getting it online (there was no 110v on the dock where we were tied up) so that we could run some appliances... and the TV. Unfortunately, tho, I fell asleep in the middle of the X-files.

Ice on the docks this morning!

We left without further incident, and continued south. There were only two incidents worth mentioning between Everett and Seattle...
  1. At the south end of the Saratoga passage, two fishermen had their nets completely blocking off the channel by positioning them in an overlapping manner. One of them had to come over and warn me - I had missed his buoy in the sun-sparkle on the water. He was polite and friendly, and I think he knew that this was not a good idea.
  2. A pod of maybe a dozen Orcas surfaced maybe 100 yds off the port bow. They were moving in such a direction that I was sure to hit them, so I veered 90 degrees to the right and went around them. They are Big!, and they were just playing... fins, heads, tails, spouts all sticking out of the water at one time or another. I went below to get the camera, but at our closest approach, they sounded, only surfacing again when they were too far astern to make a good picture.

Arriving at the Seattle Ship Canal from the north, Seattle doesn't look like a city at all from the sea! You have to be quite close to shore to see the houses in between the trees - from further out, it just looks like more coastline!

The wind had come up to 25 knots during the day, and the entrance to the Ship Canal had 3 foot waves in it. Because we were tired, worried about how to make the bridges come up, worried about the locks, and still a little unsure about boat handling in close quarters, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and tucked in to the Shilshole marina to wait for the wind to lay.

This turned out to be a good decision, because we got in touch with Erica who had dinner with us at Ray's Boat House, and because we went to the locks and talked with the lockman on duty for quite some time regarding procedure and custom. It was well worth while.

Winds are calm this morning, thank goodness.

We left the marina to try to time things so that we would be able to open the bridges (they don't open 7-9 am due to rush hour traffic). Doing the locks and the bridges is not difficult, knowing how it is supposed to work. For the bridges, you simply give them a little warning (long, short horn blast), and they will have the span up when you get there. The locks were pretty easy too, but I suspect that on a summer Sunday evening, waiting for a spot and getting into the lock with a million other boats would be a whole lot more complicated and difficult. I think we'll try to avoid this.

So... Eolian is currently tied up at slip 13 at the Yale Street Landing (SE corner of Lake Union).
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