Friday, July 29, 2011

Joy in routine

It is that time of year again.  When all of Eolian's brightwork must be masked off, sanded and another 3 coats of varnish applied.  Yesterday, I began.

And as I did so, I found myself thinking about what is routine, what is drudgery and what is joyful work.  When we first got Eolian, I tackled such tasks with the dedication and gusto that their novelty brought.  Over the years, I have learned, and I have found little ways to make the tasks easier or more effective.  But with each annual repetition of the work (Wait...  You mean I have to do this every year?), I found my motivation draining away.

How to find excitement in the routine?

Standing out there with small pieces of blue tape on my fingers, I had plenty of time to contemplate this.  Here are the inducements I came up with:
  • Pride:  When I am done, it will look good, and I will be proud of that.
  • Responsibility:  Much like raising children, I signed up for this, and it is my responsibility to get it done
  • Fear:  If I let it slide, it will only be more work next year.
  • Excitement:  I reached back and snagged that initial excitement that I felt when I did this work for the first time, as a new large boat owner.  Granted, that reach is getting longer - 1997 is pretty far back!
  • Mutual encouragement: When Jane is here, we talk about the work, share in the work, and encourage each other to get to it.  Unfortunately, this piece is lacking at the moment, as she is still in Indiana.
And then at that point I noticed that I had finished masking one side of the boat, and that it was 00:beer:30!  So I guess I should add self-distraction to the list above. 

You may not have to re-do your brightwork every year, but you surely have tasks that need to be done routinely and which you'd just as soon skip (waxing the car comes to mind...).  How do you motivate yourself?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Each of us lives in our own little bubble of awareness, with large parts of our lives on automatic.  This is normal.  And when things are not quite right for us, we complain about the discomfort - this too is natural; it is human.

In this I am flagrantly guilty.  I have whined and complained about our cold Seattle weather, far more in person than to you, patient blog readers.  Some might even say that I have whined excessively and incessantly. 

But no more.

I have just returned from spending a few days in Indiana at a family reunion.  Everyone was tan, and everyone was at least tolerant of the temperatures.

Oh My Gosh, the temperatures!  In the 90's and 100's every day!  Humidity so high that my glasses fogged up when I went from air conditioning to the hot, humid outdoors, and water running down the outsides of the windows.

And yet the only whining to be heard was from your correspondent, who, tho he grew up in the Midwest, has clearly now become a Seattle hothouse pansy. 

This morning, I have the heat on in the boat and it is a comfortable 68° in here.

And it is blessedly cool outside.  Tho the temperatures here have remained about the same, a little perspective has changed "cold" into "cool" for me.

I think we all need to get out of our bubbles, our comfort zones, from time to time.  Without the perspective that this brings, our world view becomes self-centered and parochial.  And yes, I think that this applies to much more than weather.  Much, much more.

And now, I am going to put on my jacket and go out and enjoy our wonderful Seattle weather!

Friday, July 22, 2011


I'm going to take a break from blogging for a week.

See you again in August!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One of those evenings

In a summer when there has been significant whining (I admit: some of it mine) about the cold, and where there has been the open collection of weird statistics, like how many minutes this year the temperature has been above 80° (78, but who's counting), this evening is a wonderful, rare jewel.

The temperature is 78°, there is just enough breeze so that it is enormously pleasant outside.  Our slip-mate has taken off somewhere, leaving us with the added bit of privacy that my guitar playing should have, truth be told.

I wish that all of you out there could be experiencing this, right now, with me.

And now, instead of typing on the computer down here below, I am going back out there to enjoy it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boat domestic this morning

Heavy fog out there this morning, fog horns out on the Sound, and 54°... working inside just seems the right thing to do.

So, first project: repair my boat mocs.  It seems that the harder and less flexible wear pad is separating from the foam stack which forms the heel.  And that somehow the foam stack is compressing or wearing away?? So taking advantage of one of those boat chemicals that are so ubiquitous here and non-existent in shore life, I squeezed in some 5200 (after masking with blue tape, of course!).  This stuff is the most tenacious adhesive I have ever seen, and it cures as a rubber to boot (no pun intended, tho it would make an ideal patch for boots too).  A perfect match for the need here.  This stuff takes 24 hr or more to cure, so I'll have to wear something else to work tomorrow, probably.

Next, it's been at least 10 years since Jane and I (well actually, more Jane than I, if I remember correctly) refinished the inside of our cabinetry.   It is time to revisit that task, obviously. This cabinet in the aft head should keep me out of trouble for the rest of the morning, at least.

It is kind of amazing to think that we have lived aboard Eolian long enough now that we are having to redo maintenance items, based now on the wear and tear of our lives, not that of the PO.


It sure looks better!

Friday, July 15, 2011

SOG: Save Our GPS

In a rare two-fer, this is the second post of the day here at Windborne... But I think this is important to get out there.  This is a public service announcement, copied from s/v Sea Trek's blog:
There has been a lot of discussion recently on how the U.S. government could possibly allow LightSquared, an independent 4G LTE provider,  to put up 4,600 transcievers sending broadband data services in the L band with such power that could significantly interfere with nearby GPS frequencies. Possibly causing complete failure for a high quality civilian GPS like your automobile GPS, even under an open sky, and for critical units such as those used in aviation. The GPS units on our boats that we have become so dependent on can also be affected according to major GPS manufacturers that have been doing extensive testing. There has been quite a discussion over at the Panbo Website for a few months now and there is a lot of details on the current status. This morning I received an email from the Coalition To Save Our GPS with an urgent Call To Action. I think everyone might want to read this and consider responding.

With all of the twists and turns presented by Lightsquared, it may be time for all of us as boaters to voice our concern and let our Representatives in Congress know we are less than pleased with the possibilities. Here is Mary Hanley's email.......

We hope will take a moment to file your comments with the FCC about the LIghtSquared proposal. Please also feel free to share the information below with your employees, members, colleagues and other concerned GPS users. The link provided will take them to an easy-to-use express filing form. If you want to file more extensive comments at this link you can do so at this link: Be certain to personalize your comments. The FCC may discount mass and duplicate submissions. The Coalition to Save Our GPS will also be filing comments. The “reply to comments” period is August 1-15.

Please Submit your Comments to the FCC by July 30


In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) conditionally allowed a company called LightSquared to offer wireless broadband services in radio frequency bands adjacent to those used by GPS receivers.  Based on feedback from public and private sector GPS users, the FCC told LightSquared that it could not launch service until testing could be completed to determine the extent of the problems that LightSquared would cause.  The report of that testing was submitted to the FCC on June 30th and it showed that there would be massive interference to GPS from LightSquared’s proposed operations.  The FCC has asked for feedback from the public on the report. Comments will be taken until Saturday, July 30.

What can I do?

Everyone who cares about GPS should let the FCC know about the threat that LightSquared poses.  In writing to the FCC, we encourage you to cover the following points in your own words:

·         How you use GPS technology in your business and/or personal life
·         What would happen to your business/personal life if GPS became unavailable or unreliable
·         While more capacity for wireless broadband services is important, it should not come at the expense of GPS, which is critical to our country’s economy
·         The results of the testing that were performed at the FCC’s request are conclusive – they show that GPS reception would be wiped out by LightSquared’s proposed service.
·         Now that the test results have shown interference to GPS, the FCC shouldn’t allow LightSquared to keep trying out modified versions of its plan to use the spectrum near the GPS band.  LightSquared’s operations and GPS are fundamentally incompatible and the FCC should order LightSquared out of that band.

How do I tell the FCC to save GPS?

The FCC has an easy-to-use portal on its website to submit feedback on the testing results:

(1)  Click on this link for the FCC’s Electronic Comments Filing System (ECFS):  
(2)  In the box which says “Proceeding Number,” type:  11-109. It is important to include this docket number with your comments.
(3)  In the designated boxes, enter (a) your name or your company’s name, and (b) your mailing address/city/state/zip.
(4)  In the box which says “Type in or paste your brief comments,” do so.  Click “Continue”.
(5)  A review page will load listing all of the information entered.  If correct, click “Confirm.” (6)  If you have trouble, contact the FCC ECFS Helpdesk at 202-418-0193 or e-mail at

Mary F. Hanley
Prism Public Affairs
1825 Eye Street. NW – Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006
O: 202-207-3664
C: 202-258-9048



Well yes, since you asked, that *is* two cheese blintzes topped with strawberry/raspberry jam and whipped cream.  And in an amazing coincidence, this morning I again took Jane to the airport just like I did nearly a year ago.  And as I passed by the IHOP, I found that the car had mysteriously turned into the parking lot without any input from me. 

But, like Ron Popeil says, "Wait! There's more!"  This is only a part of a low-calorie, nutritious breakfast.   Adding to the cheese and sugar (And fruit! Feel healthy!) food groups, the repast was well-balanced with contributions from the smoked meat, grease and starch food groups as well.  And eggs (Are they a food group? The proto-chicken food group?).  I love how IHOP always provides a balanced meal.

So it seems that a tradition has formed. I always wondered how they started.

Just like I wondered how I ended up in the IHOP parking lot.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crabs, Part 2.5: How to kill and clean them

If you are squeamish about where your food comes from, you might want to skip this post.   On the other hand, if you are ignorant as to where it comes from, then you should definitely read on.

I previously did a three-part series about crabs - how to catch 'em and cook 'em. In the last part of the series I talked about how to kill and clean them, but didn't provide much visual guidance.  Here I will correct that oversight.

Here is a freshly caught and very much alive rock crab.  I have flipped him onto his back (and that is the correct pronoun - he is a male.  See the narrow, pointed plate centered on his abdomen? If he were a female, it would be broad and almost rounded).  When approaching a crab to do this flip, always, always grab him from the back.  He can't reach you there with his pinchers (but he will certainly try!).  Once on his back he will settle right down, and often fold his legs up as if he were asleep.

To cause instantaneous death, hit the crab firmly with something hard right on that central plate. Here I am using Death Bringer (which sometimes also serves as a winch handle on Eolian).  Not only will the crab die instantly, but you will also have broken the main body plate (underneath the tringular one) in two - a necessity for the next step.

Now grasp all the legs on one side, with your index finger laying right along the broken central plate. Roll your hand around that index finger, lifting up the legs and pressing down on the edge of your hand and index finger.  If that central plate has been broken, you'll have a handfull of legs in one hand and the rest of the crab in the other (it takes two hands, but I needed one for the camera).  The second set of legs comes out even easier.

Finally, there are a few unappetizing bits to remove from the legs.  In the picture you can see the crab's gills - those tannish-colored pointed things - just pull them off.  And sometimes some of the unmentionable internals are found still attached.  Usually a quick flick of the wrist will fling them off.

Now, right into the steam bath with those legs, and get the butter melting!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I learned about sailing from that: Close the front hatch!

Yesterday afternoon while we were sailing back from Bainbridge Island, in a lovely 12 kt close reach, I had to dodge a container ship.  Now that is not notable - we frequently have to take a bearing on these big ships and decide if we need to alter course.

What was unusual yesterday was that the ship (one of the Hanjin Chinese freighters) was really hauling a**...  she seemed to be making at least 20 kt, but I do not know for sure.  What I do know is that she was trailing a prodigious big wake.  In fact, it was the biggest wake I have ever seen on Puget Sound down by Seattle in going on 20 years of sailing here.

As this breaking monster began rolling toward us, I found myself constantly revising my estimate of how large it was, going from "No problem", to "That looks pretty big...", to "Uh oh...".  I sent Jane below to check our state of readiness for a big 'un.  While she was down there,  I revised my estimate once again, now to "Holy crap!".  I shouted for her to close the front hatch, but there wasn't time for her to get it done before we hit the wake. 

Of course I took it head on.  And it was a monster.  Estimates under such conditions are notoriously difficult to make - but if I had to come up with a number, I'd say that the wake wave was 10 feet high.  Our bow got submerged with green water running up to the cabin.  The water that the impact raised into the air was caught in the wind and flung right at the front hatch, which was still in the "Scoop Water" position.  There was a cacophony of crashing sounds from down below.

Bottom line?  No injuries, although that certainly was a real possibility.  No real damage - the worst was that our (dry) homemade pasta made good its escape and was all over the floor.  And everything in the forward cabin was drenched with seawater.

There was one other boat close enough for us to watch as it encountered the wake - we got to check the condition of his keel.  No barnacles.

Eolian is a large boat.  We escaped relatively unscathed, but I can easily imagine injuries on a smaller vessel - and there were a lot of them out on the Sound on such a nice day.  Don't these guys have a speed limit?  Aren't they supposed to have a pilot on board?  Are they immune from the "You are responsible for the damage your wake does" clause?


  • Even on a nice sailing day, a container ship can create "Victory at Sea" conditions.
  • Close and latch the front hatch when you are off shore!
  • Beware the escape of the homemade pasta
  • Regardless of whether the other guy accepts responsibility for his wake, you are responsible for your boat.  Be ready for his wake.

Years ago when I was a kid, I used to read Flying magazine. I particularly enjoyed a long-running series of articles entitled "I Learned About Flying From That." Each article was written by a pilot, who humbly admitted to having made a mistake, and then having lived, told about it in the hopes that others would not have to make the same mistake. I thought then that it was a good format, and I still think that now. This series of postings is my attempt to recreate that article series with a new subject and new technology.

(If you would like to help others to learn from your mistakes, please send your article to: WindborneInPugetSound at gmail dot com)


Friday, July 8, 2011

Being Free

Brittany on s/v Windtraveler has some wonderful reflections on the freedom that the cruising life imparts.  And, as usual, her lyrical prose is a delight.

Go thou and read.

Yes, you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Evening in paradise

We live in a wonderful place.

Jane met me at Ray's Boathouse for happy hour after work - she walked and I arrived by bicycle from the University of Washington.

Can you imagine having half-price drinks and half-price entrees in a setting like this and then walking home?


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Four days of vagabonding: Day 3-4

After four days and several grazing encounters with crowds, we found tranquility at last, in Port Madison once again. This is a picture of my Port Madison state of mind.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Four days of vagabonding: Day 2-3

With Liberty Bay filling up, it was time for us to escape. We hoisted anchor and threaded the needle at Keyport and then over to Manzanita Bay on the West side of Bainbridge Island.

The plan was a good one. When we arrived, there were only a few boats at anchor and we were able to choose a good spot. With the anchor down, we settled in for a perfectly relaxing day at anchor: reading, guitar, and watching the other boats coming in.  And there were a lot of them.  Enough so that we began to doubt the plan, actually. But then we realized that if it was getting crowded here, it could only be worse over in Poulsbo.

Over night there was rain, and this morning it is cloudy and much cooler. Jane observed that this temperature downturn probably will have the effect of holding down the consumption of cold, refreshing adult beverages - a good thing for Liberty Bay given the crowding.

In a little while, after breakfast of course, we will hoist anchor and head thru Agate Pass again on our way back to Port Madison. The wind has turned to the South and is plenty sting enough, so we will make this passage under sail.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Four days of vagabonding: Day 1-2

META: Well now that was interesting.  The profound difficulties of typing on an iPhone keypad changed my writing style!  Looking back at yesterday's post, I see short sentences (where normally I have to carefully guard against overly-complex, parenthesized, run-on sentences, like this one) and a seeming majority of words with only one syllable.  This morning, while Jane has her weekly two-hour telephone conversation with her mother (who is, incidentally, 97 years young), I am typing on the computer because we have an internet connection here in Poulsbo.
Picking up where I left off on Vagabonding Day 1 (Friday): Following the consumption of our morning lattes and enjoying the peaceful morning in Port Madison, Jane rigged our new crab ring (Deluxe! Glow-in-the-dark harness!) and put it over the side - July 1 is the first day of crabbing season here. Within an hour or so, we had lunch: steamed crab and drawn butter. YUM! While I was cleaning the crabs, I took some pictures of the process because my little three-part series on crabs did not provide detailed enough information on just how to do that. Look for an upcoming addendum to the "Crab" series.

Following the leisurely lunch, when the tide had turned and would be with us going thru Agate Pass, we hoisted anchor and headed out. The warm, calm weather continued, so we traveled using the motor. By 14:45 we were anchored in Liberty Bay, in front of Poulsbo, relaxing and reading in the warm sunshine.

And the Bay was already filling up. Once we were settled, we watched a steady stream of boats enter the Bay and put down anchors, including s/v Ambition, who share our slip with us. We hailed them and set up to meet at the Hare and Hounds for a pub dinner.

We put the dinghy down and went into town. And then here came s/v Ghost, from across the dock! Scott grabbed this picture as we idled along side of Ghost, welcoming them as they entered the anchorage. He even managed to get Eolian in the picture!

There was only enough time to browse the used book store (must remember: bring chocolate for the proprietress!) before it was time to walk to the pub. After a great dinner sitting outside on the roof with Brent and Jill, sampling many beers, it was starting to cool off - my Hawaiian shirt was beginning to feel a little thin. So we stopped at Eolian and grabbed flannel shirts and fleece and a couple of glasses of wine to take over to Ghost as a sundowner. One common topic of conversation among anchored boaters is how close others have anchored. and with the continuing stream of boats entering the bay, we had no shortage of opportunities to discuss this. Two boats had anchored between Eolian and Ghost, where one perhaps would have been appropriate. I know I didn't sleep well, wondering what the boats would do at slack water when there is nothing to keep their anchor chains stretched out going in the same direction. Needless worry, it turns out. There were no bumps in the night.

This morning is one of those warm summer mornings that we all want. It is warm - all the hatches and ports on Eolian are open - and it is calm. It is gorgeous! And the bay is even fuller. Two large circle raft-ups are forming. (For those of you not familiar with this, perhaps 30 large boats will tie up together with their sterns in, forming a large circle. I am sure these are fun, but they are not for us. And they are noisy to be anchored near.) Later today we will leave Liberty Bay and go across to Manzanita Bay on the back side of Bainbridge Island where we expect to find peace and solitude.
Back to typing on the iPhone tomorrow.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Four days of vagabonding: Day 0-1

(This is an experiment. I am going to do all four days blogging on my iPhone, typing on its the tiny keypad)

When I got home from work, Jane had the boat ready to go. We left immediately. Since it was pretty late, we needed to be destination-oriented (a curse, I know). The wind was out of the NW and strong at 20+ kt, so pure sailing was not in the cards. Instead, we motor-sailed under a reefed main, almost directly into the wind, and anchored in Port Madison. We had a dinner of BBQ beef and corn on the cob, read for a while, and went to bed.

Sleeping at anchor is so peaceful. It is absolutely silent, and the gentle motion of the boat lulls you into the deepest sleep you'll ever have.

I awoke this morning with sunlight streaming thru the hatch above our berth. I think there is scarcely a better way to be awakened. It is warm in the cabin, 60 degrees, and comfortable sitting outside here in the cockpit, where I am picking this out with a single finger.

It is now 07:15, and boats are beginning to move, trailing silvery ribbons of wake behind. They are heading to what will be a huge gathering in Liberty Bay at Poulsbo. You see, in order to avoid competition with Seattle, Poulsbo does their July 4th fireworks on July 3rd. And tho we are also going to Poulsbo, I intend to be out of there before Sunday evening - all the crowding and craziness is not appealing.

And now I must go make Jane a latte. Each of us has his/her alarm clock - mine was sunlight; Jane's is the rushing sound of the steaming milk. And then the day will begin.
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