Sunday, June 28, 2009

Crossing the Strait

People on cruise ships probably do it in a half hour or 45 minutes. But aboard a small boat like Eolian, crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca is something that needs to be done with care, planning, and it takes a little longer. 9 hours, in fact, from Port Ludlow, to here, anchored behind Center Island in Lopez Sound.

The beginning of the day was benign, no wind to speak of, and what there was came from dead ahead. So we drove from Port Ludlow to Port Townsend. But as we cleared Point Wilson (next land here, looking past the Point Wilson lighthouse and out the Strait, is Japan), we began to see the wind coming in from the Strait. We hoisted sails and had a wonderful time, making more than 5 knots the whole way, moving from close-hauled as we entered the Strait, to a broad reach as we left it in the North, entering Rosario Strait.

Here, Jane pilots us past the nasty rocks at the SE corner of Lopez Island

By the time we turned into Lopez Pass, we were exhausted. We dropped the anchor on the NE corner of Center Island, well-sheltered from the wind, and opened two very well-deserved beers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

We're off! Port Ludlow

Indeed, we did it. We pulled out of the slip at 07:30 and waved goodbye to Scott and Fred, who happened to be out and about. We were SO happy to be powering down the waterway and out of the marina!

As we got out on the Sound, the marina shrank astern, and Seattle became insignificant. It may seem surprising, but North of Westpoint, Seattle just kind of fades, and the hillsides look pretty unoccupied, at least if you (or the camera) squint. As forecast, the wind was light, and directly from ahead. So we powered. But by the time we got up past Kingston, the wind had built and clocked around far enough for us to profit from having the sails up, so we raised the main and mizzen while powering.

The new GPS I just installed is fun! But you don't want to necessarily follow the course it shows without thinking about it a little.

We pulled into Port Ludlow and dropped the anchor at 12:00. I had to send off a fax, and Jane wanted to do some walking, so we put the dinghy down and went to the marina office and the beach. I faxed, Jane walked. Then we took a harbor tour, and went back behind the Twin Islands - at one point Eolian was nicely framed by the islands.

Tomorrow, the tide turns at 08:30 or so, so we will be up and out of here, heading North again for the long slog across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to (probably) Lopez Sound.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Timing is everything.

A high is going to move over this area tomorrow... sometime. This event will drive the wind strength and direction for the next couple of days. The NOAA forecasts have been all over the map - basically driven by when and where the high passes over us.

Nonetheless, we will throw off the docklines tomorrow morning. The plan to be in Port Ludlow tomorrow night may need to be modified... depending on the forecast. The next one is due about 9 PM.

Waiting... Learning (again) to live on the Earth's schedule starts right now...

Weather whine

So, when we needed to have light wind for the birthday/fathers day cleats 'n eats cruise, we have 20+ kt out of the South.

For tomorrow and Saturday, when we are traveling North, the forecast is for light winds, up to 10 kt, out of the North.


Best laid plans...

Last nite we were supposed to have a birthday celebration for Jane. Well, we did have the celebration (combined with a delayed Father's Day celebration, too), but not the way that was originally planned.

The original plan was to launch Ken & Erica's boat, Firecracker, and have a Cleats 'n Eats cruise from Ballard to Ivars, where we would do a light dinner, and then do a wine cruise on Lake Union as the sun went down.

Unfortunately, in true nautical fashion, the weather did not cooperate. Black clouds rolled in and there were high winds (and they blew at 15-25 kt all night long, and are still blowing right now), and so a plan revision was called for.

Instead, we gathered at Ken & Erica's house for pizza and beer, and then to keep a nautical touch, we watched Master and Commander to finish the evening.

It was a great nite, and no one got wet!

Monday, June 22, 2009


We are getting ready for two weeks offshore... the plan is to cast off at 07:38 when the tide turns on Friday morning, and head North to the San Juan Islands. We want to have everything we will need for two weeks on board, so Jane has begun the task of getting everything, and getting it stowed aboard, somewhere. Here is the first load - is that really going to be enough beer?

One of the things we have learned over the years on Eolian is that our most limiting capacity is garbage. Therefore we discard as much packaging as we can before we leave. For example, here are two boxes of saltines and two boxes of instant oatmeal, sans packaging.

A great advance in food lately has been the advent of ultra-pasteurized milk. This stuff has a really, really long expiration date. Which means that we will be able to enjoy lattes for the whole trip, every morning. I mean, how else would I get Jane up every morning?

Excitement is building...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekend Report: Not a boating weekend

This weekend was pretty much devoted to the wedding of an old friend's daughter - an old boating friend (among other things). It was a great wedding, held at the Space Needle. However, I may possibly have overserved myself last night. That could explain why I am lethargic today, and not able to properly blog.

Congratulations Courtney and Chris!!

Because I know you, Courtney, have inherited the Marine Gene, I presume that there is a boat somewhere in your future!

Backyard Campout

So, you live on a boat, and your kids want to have a backyard campout. What's stopping you?

Nothing, if you're aboard Ghost...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

s/v Inuksuk

I have never seen the Inuksuk, yet I feel that I know her. She is a 44 foot ferrocement ketch, moored in Cowichan Bay on the Southeast corner of Vancouver Island.

I feel I know her thanks to Catherine Dook. Catherine (a substitute teacher) and John Dook live aboard Inuksuk, and Catherine writes about the experience... If you ever wanted to really know what it is like living aboard - Catherine will tell you, and have you rolling on the floor and hooting with laughter in the process. She has written for some of our Northwest magazines (Nor'westing, 48 Degrees North), and has published several books, two of which I have read: Darling, Call the Coast Guard, We're on Fire Again! (ISBN 978-0920663813) and Damn the Torpedoes! (ISBN 1-894898-06-0).

Her stories of the doings at the Cowichan Bay marina are salted with characters: John Darling (her husband), Kiwi John (a New Zealander, also named John), Other John (yet another John), Screaming Liver, Stafford the Respectable (he has a job), Older-than-Dirt Don, Ed the Bald.

Inuksuk does make it out of the marina, and that's where the real fun starts. But I won't give it away - read the books.

Here's a sample of the liveaboard lifestyle, and Catherine's writing style:

(Setting the scene: After having a shaft coupling replaced on their trip across the Strait of Georgia used up their spare cash, Catherine cuts John Darling's hair as a necessary cost savings. We enter the story with her talking, in response to John's desire to wear a hat for the next month...)

"It's hard to explain, darling, but it's kind of a mark of ownership - like a hand knit sweater, or that we have matching raincoats when we go out together."

"I'm flattered."

"Besides, this is a haircut that makes you look like a resident of Cowichan Bay. A tourist would recognize you as a local immediately. We are home, darling, where this brand of creativity is greeted with the same sort of kindly laughter that greeted us when we clipped Fred's boat, when we painted our deck diaper brown, and when we melted our engine and had to be towed home. Darling, this is where we live, and this is the haircut that gives you that unmistakable Cowichan Bay stamp. A man of the sea - a man who laughs at convention - a man brave enough and defiant enough to let his wife cut his hair."

"Can I cut your hair, then?"

"Don't be silly, darling."

Ed the Bald poked his head down our companionway. "A haircut!" he exclaimed. "John's got a haircut! Hey Fred, Mike - come look at this!"

"We're home, my love."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vitamin D

There is a continuing series of articles about how Seattlites suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. It seems that we see the sun so rarely here that we don't manufacture enough vitamin D in our skin. And then when the sun does shine, we are so scared of it that we won't go outside without slathering on a thick layer of SPF 50.

I absolutely love this time of year. Sunrise today, here at latitude 47 and a half degrees, was at 05:11 AM, and sunset won't be until 9:10 PM - the long days are to me like cool water is to a desert traveller. I live for them.

I woke up at 04:00 AM this morning - it was just starting to get light. I made myself a latte and sat out on the deck. (Have I said before that I like to be up before everyone else?) It was calm, and remarkably quiet - the loudest thing was the sound of the swallows and robins out on the breakwater, who were just waking up and chattering to each other.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Solar Lights

You know, those lights you see in the garden aisle - the ones with a solar cell on top and a tiny LED that you can put anywhere? Well they seem to be popular items with boaters - here at Shilshole anyway.

Perhaps they appeal because they are "green", or because the light they produce is free, or maybe because they need no wiring. But most of the boats out here on the end of G dock have several of them.

On Eolian, we like them because they provide an eye-level alternative to the "official" anchor light (on the top of the mast, 65' above the water). The official light is good for drawing attention to an anchored boat from far away, but for, say, a small fishing boat threading its way thru the anchorage, they are so far off the water as to be irrelevant. So we do what we can to make Eolian more visible from close up, near water level. We have several of these "driveway marker" lights - they are designed to be driven over, and are therefore weather tight and very sturdy.

Some lights are for welcoming, and others are just for whimsy.

Doug and Ruth on Angelique even have these party tiki solar lights - they produce a flickering yellow-orange light!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Project: Replace the Holding Tank

(Project from 2003)

Now here is a project you never want to do.

This is an uncomfortable subject, but then living aboard forces you to come face to face with most of the aspects of your existence, many of which are "out of sight, out of mind" on shore.

I don't know how long it has been illegal to discharge sewage into Puget Sound, but it has been a long, long time. Accordingly, boats are required to retain sewage and carry it around in a holding tank. I want to invite the folks on shore who are always saying that people who live on boats are polluting the Sound with raw sewage to my next "Replace the Holding Tank Party".

Our holding tank was made of aluminum and was 20 years old. It had begun to seep, especially where someone screwed a bronze fitting into it, causing galvanic corrosion. It needed to be replaced.

First: accessibility. The holding tank is in a small bilge compartment amidships. There are two hatches into this compartment, but neither is very large. Initially, I carefully measured up the space and the hatches and sent the measurements to Adam, who put them into a fancy CAD program. I then gave him a tank catalog (Ronco Plastics has a great catalog!) which he then used to determine which tank(s) might be able to fit thru the hatch, and could then be rotated into position. As it turned out, only very small tanks (less than 20 gallons) would work. So we bit the bullet and cut out the section of floor between the hatches and removed the supporting 4x4 teak beams underneath (the aft beam is still in place in the picture). Now the opening is large enough to accommodate a tank of realistic size: 45 gallons, the same as the existing tank.

Thankfully, there are no pictures of the next step. As preparation, we pumped and rinsed the tank repeatedly, then dumped a gallon of bleach into it and filled it again and left it to steep. Then another pump out to get rid of the bleach solution.

Now the steps were these:
  • rent a SawzAll (not gonna use any of MY tools for this...)
  • put on old clothes
  • climb down in the hole
  • cut the tank up
  • hand the pieces to Jane
Now mind you, there was only a little smell initially, but after the coating on the inside walls was disturbed, and after the 2" of sludge in the bottom started sloshing around, it was a totally disgusting job. After all the pieces were out, I sloshed bleach over everything and then scooped up the remainder into a bucket. Yes, there was a lot of misc. "stuff" around, behind and under the tank. Then hose out the area after the bleach swab-down. Then shower. Shower. Shower again.

There is a lot more room down there now...

When the custom-manufactured tank arrived (only a week after ordering - Ronco is great!), it barely fit into the back seat of the Fox. It is a rotationally molded polyethylene tank, with 3/8" wall thickness.

The new tank goes on the port side of the compartment instead of the aft bulkhead. In order to keep the tank in place, a substantial framework had to be built and fiberglassed to the hull. One should remember that when full, it will weigh over 400 lb, and will attempt to jump around down there in a seaway. A loose, full holding tank is a thought I really don't want to contemplate.

As the construction proceeded, lots of trial fittings were required, each a fairly major ordeal. For the final fitting, the plumbing was attached (it couldn't be done when the tank was in place), and the tank was installed.

For completion, 2x4 keepers were screwed in place trapping the tank. You can also see that we gave the entire bilge compartment a couple of coats of white paint, which improved appearances immensely.

Final steps: I cut thin (less than 1/8") teak strips and attached them to the raw edges where the floor panel had been cut out. I reinstalled the floor panel, plugged the screw holes, and applied varnish to the unfinished wood. And then finally, sand/refinish the entire floor in the office area to incorporate the newly finished areas.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Contents may have shifted

Here's a difference...

Like in your house, there are small cabinets in the galley where dishes, glassware (above the sink) and spices (above the refrigerator) are stored.

And like in your house, there are cabinets in the bathroom where small bottles and other containers are stored. We put the same kinds of things in there that you do in your medicine cabinet.

Now, imagine what would happen to your house if you tilted it to one side at 10 or 15 degrees, and then shook it for an hour or two.

Yeah, exactly. "Contents May Have Shifted."

Before we leave the dock, there is a routine list of tasks we have to undertake to get ready for sea. One of these is to make sure that the sliding door on the cabinet over the sink is closed. But on one particularly boisterous passage in the Strait of Georgia, the motion of the boat caused the sliding panel to open of its own accord, and the glassware that had been trapped inside began to escape, one after the other, like little transparent skydivers. Jane thought quickly, and subdued them by stuffing bath towels into the cabinet.

Unless you live in California, I'm guessing that you don't have to deal with this.

We had two good sails across Puget Sound this weekend... and judging by the shifting of the contents of the cabinets, they were great sails!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Making the Bed

Some things are just harder on a boat. Making the bed is one of these things.

The berth in the aft cabin (which we reserve as the master suite) on Eolian is queen-sized, sort of. I buy queen sized sheets, but have to put them on sideways. So in other words, it is like you are sleeping on a queen sized bed, but sideways. Oh yeah, because the stern pinches in, the bottom corners are cut off. And, yeah, for the last 4 feet or so, there is only about 2 feet of headroom above the mattress. (The picture makes it look like we sleep with our heads under the overhang - not so. We just put the pillows there during the day, for a little neater appearance.)

So, how do you make the bed?

First of all, I should state that this is almost exclusively my task - part of the (unspoken) deal for living on a boat is that I make the bed.

We use a fitted sheet for the bottom, but because of the truncated shape of the mattress, it doesn't "fit" very well. Therefore, we use garter elastics (yep, those things that used to be used more nobly for holding up nylons) applied across the corners, under the mattress, to tighten things up. The bottom two are a real problem to get on, what with that limited headroom.

Then the top sheet (sideways, "head" seam to the right for Jane). It is not easy to get it on straight because you have to sit on it while you spread it down to the foot - you can't walk around this bed. The top sheet is just long enough to reach the foot of the bed, so it really is important to get it on straight. Tuck the (oversized) corners under (duck - there's only two feet above you).

Same drill with the electric blanket, then again one more time for the cover quilt.

It is exhausting. By the time the bed is ready, I am truly ready for bed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Destination: Port Blakely, Bainbridge Island

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.
At the very Southeast corner of Bainbridge Island, just below Eagle Harbor (where the ferries dock) is Port Blakely. There are no tricks to getting into Port Blakely, but you should give the Northern point defining the harbor a wide berth due to rocks. Also, while passing Eagle Harbor, pay very close attention to the red buoy and the dolphin with the red day mark which delineate the Tyee Shoal. It is a narrow fit between the VTS traffic Southbound land and Tyee Shoal - know where you are. There is a shoal extending Northward from Blakely Rocks, so don't drift too far South. Actually, these cautions make it sound far, far worse than it is. The biggest problem we face on entering Port Blakely is that we seem to always tangle with ferries entering or leaving Eagle Harbor.

Port Blakely is deep. To anchor in the middle you will be in 50 feet of water. But do not crowd the back of the harbor too tight - there is a cable crossing back there. The sign is kind of dilapidated, but can be seen just to the West of the last house on the Northern shore. (Soundings on these chart segments are in feet.)

One of the greatest charms of Port Blakely is that it has a clear view of downtown Seattle. At sunset, the sunlight reflecting off the skyscrapers makes them seem aflame. And then the city lights begin to come on. At full dark, the Eastern skyline is dominated by the lit up city. As you can see from this picture taken from an anchorage along the Northern shore of Port Blakely, the skyline view is better from the South shore. If you choose to anchor along the South shore, pay close attention to your depth sounder, it shoals off rather more quickly than some people seem to imagine.

Ferry wakes entering the harbor are the only negative. They are not terrible, especially if there is any breeze, which tends to keep the boats bow- or stern-to the wakes.

Port Blakely has a rich history. The modern part began in 1863 when Captain William Renton (Seattle folks: recognize that name?) bought 164.5 acres that included and surrounded what is now Port Blakely, for $205.63. By May 28, 1864, he had built and begun operating a sawmill; the first cargo was loaded onto the Nahumkeag. This initial mill was turning out about 70,000 board feet a day (a board foot is 12" x 12" x 1"; a 16 foot 2x6 is 16 board feet). The mill continued to expand, and at one time it was the largest mill in the world, producing over 200,000 board feet a day. Port Blakely was filled to overflowing with square riggers hauling all that output - mostly to San Francisco, where a building boom was going on. A village sprung up around the mill to house the workers.

Then finally, the Hall brothers constructed a shipyard on the North shore, just past the end of the sawmill, because of the ready availability of quality lumber. The first vessel built by the Hall brothers was the 365 ton three-masted schooner , Maria Smith, launched May 1, 1881. Not only was there a steady supply of lumber for the ship construction, the cargo was virtually guaranteed as well.

Fire was a constant danger in a steam-powered sawmill, fired by the wood waste from the mill itself, and covered with sawdust. In 1888, the unthinkable happened, and the mill burned down. It was immediately rebuilt, this time with all the modern amenities, including fire ponds and an integrated sprinkler system. Just a year later, Seattle burned.

It is difficult to see the busy frenetic harbor when you are at anchor there today. At the head of Port Blakely, the mill pond, with a dam across the end of the bay is still very much in existence. Logs were let into the mill pond on a flood tide, and a gate was lowered on ebb tides, to retain the water.

Also still in existence is the old boiler house, a concrete pillbox now decorated with grafitti.

The villages, the bunkhouses, and the entire structure of the mill (except as noted) is gone. There is no sign at all of the shipyard that produced 88 square riggers. (On the south shore, there is the skeleton of a ship which is revealed at low tide, but I think it is too small to be one of these.) The harbor is very peaceful today, but at night sometimes it seems that the whine of an 8 foot circular saw is still echoing around the harbor.

If you have a continuing interest in the history of this harbor, I highly recommend the book Port Blakely (The Community Captain Renton Built), by Andrew Price, 1989 (ISBN 0-9625376-0-8).

Outside my port this morning

Two seagulls were harrassing an eagle.

I was brushing my teeth.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

We've come a long way

I moved aboard Eolian in December of 1997, while Jane stayed in Spokane, as our youngest son had not yet graduated from high school. She joined me at the end of the summer of 1998 after he was settled in at the University of Washington. Between those two times, I was a boat bachelor. It was an ideal time to be a bachelor, as there was more than plenty to do to get Eolian up to snuff. You can even see the way I innocuously reported the Hot Diesel incident - I didn't want to spook Jane away from moving aboard.

We got a decent price for Eolian, but that was because I was willing to invest a lot of time in bringing her up to where we wanted her. So, during that time period, I kept myself busy, and lived in a complete mess while I worked. Here are some of the notes I made then:

Mon, 8 Dec 1997
  • All but one fluorescent lite now work. There were spare bulbs under the sink in the fwd head. I had to replace 3 switches. The one which could not be resurrected is the one in the office. It had failed due to a water leak in the porthole directly above it.
  • The deck leak at the Nav station has been fixed - it was the window, where the silicone rubber caulk had cracked (!).
  • The water leak at the office has been temporarily repaired. The porthole needs to be replaced. In fact, the 4 forward portlights need to be replaced (apparently the 4 aft ones already have been).
  • I started with the bilge blower, but ran out of daylight and dry weather. The blower is now securely mounted, but still needs to be wired in its new position. The inlet hose needs to be hooked up to the other deck vent on the other side of the stern too. Not sure how big a job this will be, or why it has failed.
  • Discovered the actual presence of diesel in the starboard water tank. I put some dish soap into the tank and refilled it to try to wash down all the walls of the tank. I will use this tank only for washing dishes (natch!) and for showering. The port tank is clean and fine (it is the one we had been using since buying the boat).
  • Checked out the water and holding tank capacity gauges. They are pneumatic, and it may be possible to resurrect them. I need some small-bore tubing to test this hypothesis...
  • Pulled apart the starboard running light. Gooped up with some kind of cement (??!?), and victim of corrosion. Will try to resurrect using WD40. Found spare parts for running lites under dinette.
  • Found a broken wire going into the mast at the mast step. Don't know what it is for...

Fri, Dec 12, 1997
  • Removed the old, non-functional burglar alarm and all associated wiring
  • Discovered that one of the floor timbers requires shimming. This will eliminate a lot of the floor squeaking, once it is done.
  • Still getting "pre-soaped" water out of the starboard tank. All cooking water is currently being brought on board in either pans or the tea kettle
  • Discovered that the boat has a galvanic isolator. This is a device which keeps our zincs from trying to protect all boats on the common AC ground at the dock.
  • Determined that the problem with the hard-closing refer door can probably be cured by shimming of the hinge mount points
  • Our next-door neighbor has moved, taking his water hose with him. I must now get a water hose in order to be able to fill the tanks. Luckily, I had just refilled them.
  • Discovered that the powerline noise filter wired into the satnav power feed wiring was just put in by twisting the (bare!) wires together. This became visible as I slowly removed abandoned wiring from outboard of the nav station. I will mount (!) the isolator in the wiring cabinet under the nav station, and wire it properly.
  • Discovered that the wiring to the fuel tank senders is simply disconnected. Now, the 64 dollar question... should I just reconnect it? Was it disconnected for a purpose?
  • Discovered that virtually all of the battery hold-down straps need to be either replaced or re-anchored or both.

Fri, Dec 19, 1997
  • Completed installation of the telephone wiring. The outlet is in the office.
  • Completed installation of the bilge blower. Once started, it seemed to not be moving much air. My initial thought was that something was in the hose. When I started tracing the hose in the bilge, however, I found a big ball of duct tape on its end which had essentiall sealed itself to a smooth section of the bilge. When I pulled it away, big-time air movement began! I removed the duct tape and routed the hose differently so that it won't attach itself to anything. I need to permanently attach it to something so that can't flop around while under way.

    By the way, running it has made a significant difference in the interior odor.
  • Discovered that the 12V breaker labeled "Battery Charger" does not control anything associated with the battery charger. There is a wire attached to it tho...

    This makes the third "mystery circuit" on board. The first is the (now detached) 110v inlet at the stern, and the second is the circuit labeled "Comb." with its own funky switch on the panel. Each of these needs to be traced out and disconnected, labeled, re-used, or whatever is appropriate.
  • Repaired the Port side running light. Will have to replace the starboard side - too far gone into corrosion. Replacement parts are on board.
  • Cured another deck leak at one of the deck scuppers directly above the galley. I suspect at least two more of these, but need rain (!) to confirm.
  • Replaced the spring hold-opens on the main salon butterfly hatch. Tried leaving it uncovered in the rain for additional light, but too much of the wood in it is uncoated, so water seeps through it too much. Needs varnish.
  • Repaired the broken wooden edges on several drawers/cabinet doors. Amazingly, the owner had saved almost all of the pieces which had broken off.
  • Purchased and installed a telephone. Followed Erica's recommendation and made it a radio phone (for only $29!). It is on the salon side of the opening dividing the office from the salon. Called US West for service.

Jan 5, 1998
  • Removed the funky switch labeled "Comb." from the power panel. It was apparently associated with the air conditioner.
  • Pulled tha AC ammeter. It had begun to fail (dangerous condition!!!) and was actually melting! I currently have the two wires bolted together so as to continue to have AC power. A new ammeter is on order from Fisheries Supply.
  • Installed a 1 gallon accumulator tank for the water supply. This keeps the water pump from running all the time when a faucet is opened. It fills the same function that a pressure tank on a water well system does. It is immediately above the water heater under the aft dinette seat. I thought that this was a good place, since the space was unused and unusable.
  • Disassembled the port center hawser pipe and found yet another leak site. Rebedded it in silicone. Now I should check the starboard side.
  • I need to put in a switch bank to cover the heater, the heater fan, the heater oil pump, and the washdown pump. BTW, all of these things are powered from the port lighting circuit, via an 18 gauge wire which is fused at 15 amps (!). The wire should be replaced, and perhaps a different breaker used. With the removal of the abandoned circuits, there are now some spares...


Friday, June 5, 2009

Unavoidable Parenting

Last night, before the "marine push" came in, we were anchored in Port Madison (again). It was hot - even sultry - felt like the midwest. Then, all at once, the clouds appeared overhead, and the wind kicked up to 20 knots. Two boats in our anchorage drug anchor.

I had passed Ken and Erica on my way home, trailering Firecracker to the boat launch, so I knew they were out on the water.

I called them (parents can't help this). When Erica answered the phone, the very first thing she said wasn't "Hello!" Instead, it was "We're out - already on the trailer!"


Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Marine Gene

Is there one?

If there is, I inherited it from my father, who like to spend time in small boats on Wisconsin lakes fishing for muskies.

Maybe there is. I took every chance to be on a boat growing up. (Well, except one, which I still regret to this day: in high school, I had the opportunity to crew on a sloop in the Mackinac Island race; I declined due to homework. Stupid.) You might think college would have been a distraction... but then there was the Purdue Sailing Club.

Our kids grew up on sailboats - Cal 21, Catalina 22, and finally the O'Day 25. The movement of the boat became second nature to them while they were babies.

So... Is there a marine gene?

Erica (Trace Metals Chemist, King County Environmental) and son-in-law Ken (Analytical Chemist, Amgen) have a 17' Larson runabout named Firecracker which seems to get wet nearly every weekend during the Seattle summer. It spends most days in Lake Union or Lake Washington, but sees salt water occasionally as well. They also have a canoe hanging in their carport.

Adam (Lead Design Engineer, PACCAR/Kenworth) went in a slightly different direction. He *built* his boat, a kayak - stitch and glue construction - from Chesapeake Light Craft. It is gorgeous. Green Lake and Lake Union are his favorite haunts. And he introduced Jane to kayaking for Mothers' Day this year.

What do you think? Is there a marine gene? If there is, it must mutate when passing from one generation to the next, since no one has a sailboat... yet. A father can always hope.

(I do know that there is a beer brewing gene - it is on the Y chromosome.)
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