Monday, July 30, 2012

One weekend every year

Five rolls of tape.

1 quart of varnish.

Three days - that's less than 1% of the year - doesn't seem like a lot.  That's what it takes to keep the exterior teak on Eolian gleaming.  It's not so much, is it?  Modern boats have completely eliminated the task by eliminating exterior teak altogether (and interior teak, for that matter).

It doesn't seem like a big committment, except that those three days have to come in summertime conditions, and that they require 100% dedication to the task, and the boat is a complete disaster area until the task is completed.  As I sit typing this evening, my arms have barely the strength to keep at the keyboard.  But Alleluia, it is done.

Here's the drill:
  • Day one:
    • Tape off the hand rails, the eyebrow, and the caprail.  This involves a lot of wedging of bodies into narrow side deck spaces, on top of non-skid that threatens to non-skid off your skin.  The starboard side of the boat has to be done from the dinghy - especially tiring because of the d#@! laws of physics require every action to have a reaction.  Push against the boat to secure the tape and the dinghy (and you!) scoot away.
    • Sand everything with 150 grit sandpaper.  I think that this is the most exhausting part of the whole job.
    • Wipe everything down to get the sanding dust off.
    • Put on a coat of varnish
    •  Go back and clean up any drips
  • Day two:
    • Put on a coat of varnish.  Ditto on body wedging and skin removal.
    • Go back and clean up any drips
  • Day three:
    • Put on a coat of varnish.  Ditto on body wedging and skin removal.
    •  Go back and clean up any drips
    • Wait several hours
    • Pull the tape.  Ditto on body wedging and skin removal.  Ditto on physics lesson.
It is a dedicated weekend.  If you had anything else planned, you'll be too tired to do it after the day's varnishing tasks are done.

But still, it is less than 1% of the year (albeit more like 5% of the best part of the year).  And you get to make this really neat ball of blue tape at the end. 

And the teak looks nice for another year.

    After putting this up, I noticed that I had written almost the same post earlier, in 2010.  Except that then I claimed that the work took 4 days.  I guess we're getting more efficient.  Yeah, that's it.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    On the dock

    It doesn't take much.

    Wed nite we had a gathering on the dock...  A big crab boil with probably 4 gallons of cleaned crab, potatoes, shrimp, corn, etc.  The occasion?  Three of the ladies on the dock had near-collisions of birthdays.

    For years now I have been writing about life on the dock.  If you've been reading along, you've slowly gotten a glimpse of what it's like.  Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring - its all good!

    But with all the words I have written, I haven't captured the feeling as well as my friend Brian over at Dock Six.  Please go over and read what he had to say about dock life...

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    Thru the eyes of a two-year old

    Two year olds are precious.  If you spend time with them, they will provide you with something of inestimable value:  a unique and fresh view of the world.  They have enough language that you can communicate with them, and yet they are young enough that each new day brings new experiences to them.  Every day is an exciting adventure!
    Last weekend when we had Adam & Kaci onboard for an overnighter, we laughed about what the following weekend - this one - would be like.  Because this weekend we would have Ken & Erica and our two grandchildren, Hazel (2Y 3 Mo) and Eliza (9 Mo) onboard.

    This wasn't Hazel's first visit to Eolian.  Aside from this visit (which she probably doesn't remember), we had Hazel and her family onboard for a dinner at the dock a little while ago, as kind of an introduction to Eolian for her. And Hazel is not a stranger to boats in general, because Ken & Erica have a beautiful little classic 16' Larson run-about which she was out on a lot last summer.

    Here's a little insight into the way a two-year old's mind works: for that dinner visit when she was exploring above and below decks, she referred to the cockpit as "the boat".  And when I tried to lead her up the side deck to the bow, about half way up her courage failed.  Then later she called on Gramma to accompany her.   But when they got out there on the side deck, she held up her hand in the classic "halt" pose, and told Gramma "Do self".  And she did.

    Ah, but this weekend was a much bigger deal.  Hazel was so excited that she couldn't sleep.   Good parents that Ken and Erica are, they spent time 'priming' her for the events to come so that there wouldn't be surprises.  First, there was a bus ride - her first ever.  She was amazed that all you had to do was stand in a special place and the big machines would stop - just for you!

    Next, after a three-block walk thru downtown Seattle, was her second ever ferry ride.  Another big event, and another blast of excitement.

    Uh oh... I don't like the looks
    of that dinghy
    After the ferry docked in Winslow in Eagle Harbor, there was a four-block walk along the waterfront, with all the harbor views and smells that entails.  Finally the family reached the public dock, and Grampa was waiting with the dinghy.

    Now here I think I made a mistake.  Ken handed me Hazel and I put her down in the dinghy.  But she was so nervous about it that she was trembling.  It would have been better if Ken had gotten in first - that way she would at least have had support from her Daddy.  But Ken got in right afterwards and she settled down.  Once Erica and Eliza (in a pack) had boarded, and all the gear had been stowed as best as was possible in an 11' dinghy, I warned Hazel that I would be starting the motor.

    As I may have mentioned before, the outboard is minimal - one of the things that was omitted in its weight saving optimization was sound deadening.  It's pretty noisy - that's why I warned Hazel.  She didn't like it, but she buckled down and endured it.

    And then finally there was Eolian - now christened "Big Boat", and Gramma was waving at us!  Once Hazel was aboard, she was not interested in any way in getting into the dinghy again.  Ever.

    With everything stowed and the adults equipped with celebratory welcome-aboard beverages, Hazel immediately tackled her fear of the companionway ladder.  She must have made 500 trips up and down that ladder over the course of her visit.  As her fear lessened, she took to carrying her pink and blue bunnies in one hand while she climbed and descended, making her grandparents pretty nervous in their turn.

    Our plan was to try to take advantage of dying wind to sail from Eagle Harbor up to Port Madison where we would anchor for the night.  There was a lot of interest in the anchor hoisting process, with Daddy standing by to keep little hands safely away from the wildcat and chain.  Sadly, there was no wind.  So we motored up the whole way.  The engine noise did not bother Hazel (it's a lot quieter than the dinghy), but the heaving floor down below as we crossed wakes caused some consternation.  Hazel kept talking about "Boat moving."

    Water, water...
    Just the ticket!
    Finally, the anchor was down in Port Madison, the sun was shining, and Jane's amazing insight into what makes the little people tick paid dividends.  Gramma set up a water play arrangement in a tub on the stern which kept Hazel busy for an amazing length of time.

    Then there was an event on the bow where crab was served.  Hazel had seen and talked about crabs at the beach - she was quite interested in finding out what they tasted like - and enjoyed the novelty of eating them. 

    Finally, there was the hustle and bustle of preparing dinner in a small space, and then eating.  These were familiar activities with familiar utensils (she brought her own sippy cup and silver ware), in an unfamiliar setting.  It worked out well.

    There was not going to be any going to bed early tho  - no one wanted to miss out on anything.  But finally all the big people went to bed and Hazel sacked out in her sleeping bag on the settee in the main saloon - the lee cloth worked well to keep her from tossing herself onto the floor.

    Curious George and Blue Bunny
    save the day
    All of us slept in.  Until Eliza went off, that is.  But it was pretty late for her, about 06:30 as I recall.  Still, Hazel had not really caught up on her sleep.  After a breakfast of cornbread and blueberries, about the only thing that was going to be a calming influence for this little girl was a dose of familiar Curious George, which Ken had thoughtfully put on Erica's phone.  Curious George is like soma to Hazel. 

    Finally, when it was time to leave Port Madison, the wind had kicked up prodigiously (20+ kt).  I put up only a reefed mainsail on the reach, in order to not make the sail too lively.  You see, the lack of sleep had finally caught up with Hazel - as soon as the sail went up, she fell asleep -  sitting up. Her Daddy gently laid her down and she slept thru the entire passage back to Shilshole.

    Eliza working on a figure-eight
    Finally, two postscripts.  First, it is clear that Hazel is going to be joined as crew on Eolian.  Eliza is already boning up on her knots, working on a figure-eight here.

    And second, Jane vacuumed up an amazing quantity of Cheerios in the aftermath.  Really, why aren't these called Purina Kid Chow?


    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    (not) Marine stores: Online Metals

    Another of my favorite (non) marine stores is Online Metals. One of the coolest things about this outfit is that they specialize in shipping small quantities of materials to you, although I have not made use of this service since they are (so very fortunately!) local - just off Nickerson, across the Ballard Bridge.

    Although their name is "Online Metals", it is important to note that they also sell plastics.  I ordered a 12" x 24" x 1/2" sheet of UHMW polyethylene for making Ray's permanent home from them, but I have also bought brass rod for making sea rails, and other things.

    Since they apparently deliver world-wide, this outfit may be of interest to the world-wide collection of folks who read this blog.  If you use Online Metals and are located outside the United States, please add a comment telling of the service they provided.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Living under a lightning rod

    Sailors, more than power boaters who seem to want to travel in spite of Mother Nature, are well attuned to her ways, since they move in cooperation with her.  Nevertheless, Mother Nature is not always benign, even to sailors.  She is not malignant, but just supremely aloof.  All the accommodation must occur on our side.

    Recently, one of the boats whose blog we follow was hit by lightning - arguably Mother Nature's most concentrated and capricious force.  Now, sometimes a lightning strike can leave you with little more than ringing ears.  But not usually.   In this case, s/v Bella Star was left with virtually nothing electronic on board in working condition. Fortunately, they were not onboard when the strike occurred, and the hull was not holed, as sometimes is the case when the lightning seeks an exit to the water.

    This morning, as we sit anchored in Eagle Harbor there is thunder rolling around in the clouds.  This is an extremely rare event here in Seattle - so much so that not infrequently an individual lightning strike is reported on the news.  I think the news folks may be saturated today, since we had thunderstorms most of yesterday too.

    Not that we are thunder storm weenies tho.  Both Jane and I grew up in the Midwest, and got our start sailing on Lake Carlyle (hi Deb!), and spent two years sailing on the Chesapeake.  At that time, for protection we had a pair of jumper cables that we'd clip on the shrouds and trail in the water - an attempt to provide the lightning a convenient path to the water, should the mast be struck.  I don't know if it would have worked; we were never struck.

    Is there any way to prevent a strike?  On this the experts disagree.  But the insurance companies, who very much have a dog in this fight, have no recommendations.  You can bet that if there were a way to even slightly reduce the likelihood of a strike, boats would be required to implement it in order to get insurance, especially in Florida - the lightning capital of the world.

    So, what do we do?  Well, the vast, VAST majority of the time, it is not an issue here in Seattle, so we don't think about it.  But the last couple of days have brought back memories - memories of hot muggy days and me telling the kids to stay away from the mast and the standing rigging.  And the night before last, when we saw a strike on the water less than a mile away, we moved all the electronics we could into the oven (it acts as a Faraday cage).

    And we tried to stay away from the masts and the rigging.

    And we had a glass of wine and watched the light show.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Sunset moment

    Last night here in Seattle was a spectacular summer evening, complete with a glorious sunset. Several of my Facebook friends posted pictures, taken at slightly different times and from different vantage points. It was an interesting impromptu and unorganized study. This panorama was our contribution, taken from Port Madison, later in the twilight. (As always, you can click on pictures to see the full-sized versions.)

    And in keeping with the astronomical nature of this post, several sources are telling me that we could have an auroral display that reaches into the middle tier of states on the nights of the 14th and 15th. Might be a good time to stay up late...

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    It's here!

    Just like clockwork, summer arrived in Seattle on July 5.  And it was like a big weather knife switch in the sky was thrown - the change was sudden, profound, and welcome.

    I know that much of the rest of the US has been suffering with triple digit temperatures, but we up here in the upper left hand corner of the country have had high temps in the 50's and low 60's for our "summer"...  up until July 5.  Then BOOM!

    And we have Adam & Kaci out on the boat this weekend - the timing could not be better!  I've always wanted them to be able to experience true summer cruising, but it seems that we've always picked crummy  cold or cold/rainy times to have them aboard.  I'm really looking forward to this weekend!

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    You want authentic Ballard?

    For good or for ill, Ballard is being gentrified. The Seattle city fathers have decided: Ballard is to be the new high-density housing area.  And so the Ballard skyline is littered with construction cranes. The sleepy, blue collar marine community is disappearing to make way for hi-rise apartments and condos.

    The newcomers are attracted in part to that sleepy, working man atmosphere - an atmosphere which is slowly but surely being over-layed by their future.  In consequence there is a palpable desire to seek out and experience the authentic "Old Ballard", before it goes the way of Fremont.

    The Lockspot
    Authentic Ballard
    Tho there are a lot of places laying claim, there is probably no place more authentic Ballard than the Lockspot Cafe.  It's been there at the Chittenden Locks for more than 90 years - it certainly has the whiskers for being authentic.

    There's a story behind the antlers
    No, this is not a fancy restaurant, nor is it a fern bar.  This is an honest to goodness pub.  A classic American seaside pub.  Wood paneling, marine kitsch, and a fireplace with a huge moose rack above it (yes, those are champaign corks protecting the patrons from the points).

    The Lockspot is not a place to go to "be seen".  Seattle has plenty of those - if that's what you want, you should go to one of them.  If instead, you want the best fish n' chips to be had in Seattle in a comfortable, laid-back, homey environment, this is the place for you.  And as you might expect from a neighborhood establishment, families and kids are frequent patrons.

    I'm not sure how, but The Lockspot survived its contact with fame essentially untouched...  it was featured in the "Deadliest Catch" TV series, but the only real evidence of this is that you can buy "Deadliest Bar" T-shirts there.  And a poster signed by the crew of the boats in the series (yes, they are real boats) hangs by the cash register.  As you might expect from a Ballard staple, fame did not go to its head.

    Pam & Adolph
    We've been coming in for over 15 years - since before we moved to Seattle from Spokane.  For us, this is Ballard's version of Cheers - where everybody knows your name.  Recently, when Jane's cousin's daughter (does that make her a second niece?) Amy won first place in the 10K Olympic Finals, we mentioned this to Adolph, our usual and familiar waiter, because he was paying attention to Olympic track & field events on the TV.  That started a long conversation, which eventually grew to include Pam (the Lockspot's owner) as well.  It's that kind of place.

    If you go, tell Pam & Adolph that Bob & Jane say, "Hi!"


    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Boat jewelry

    Remember this little exercise with the exhaust manifold that happened this past spring?  Well now it has come full circle.

    Boat Jewelry

    A little internet research turned up Marine Exhaust Systems of Alabama.  Amazingly, they were able to fabricate a replacement exhaust manifold from heavy 316 stainless plate and deliver it to Seattle for about half the delivered cost of a cast iron one from Perkins.

    So, what exactly is this exhaust manifold thing?  On an auto engine, the exhaust ports of the engine are connected to a cast iron manifold that collects the exhaust and conveys it to the muffler.  And on a car, that manifold runs almost red hot.  On a car, that is not a problem because of all the air flowing thru the engine compartment.  But on a boat, that is too much heat to safely have trapped below the floorboards.  So, marine engines have water-cooled exhaust manifolds.

    There it is!
    So, there is ours, lurking just below the intake manifold (the intake has the yellow warning sticker on it).  The cooling water inlet is on the right (hose clamp shining brightly), and the water discharge is the hose connection on the left.  The exhaust elbow, which conveys the exhaust to the water-lift muffler is also on the left, below the water discharge, but you can't see it in the picture.

    Out with the old...

    Last Friday, we stayed at the dock, and I tackled the task of pulling out the old cast iron manifold and replacing it with the beautiful new stainless one.  I won't bore you with the blow-by-blow details of wedging my body into the space and turning nuts that are not quite completely inaccessible.  Instead, you can just imagine me cursing the British engineers who designed things that way.  Repeatedly cursing.

    And in with the new!
    Now, there's always some trepidation when using non-factory parts, as to whether they will actually fit.  And right up to the point where I trial-fitted the new manifold, I had the fear that after going thru all the steps of disassembly, that I would have to reassemble with the old manifold because the new one didn't fit in some way.  And that was a real possibility, since the clearances are so tight.

    I needn't have worried.  The new manifold slipped right into place, perfectly.  Kudos to Marine Exhaust of Alabama!

    I inspected the old cast iron manifold; there is no evidence of water leakage into the exhaust gas side.  So, I guess it could have stayed in there, for a while yet.

    But you know what?  I am going to sleep better.


    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Got licorice?

    When we are anchored in Liberty Bay, one of the places we visit in Poulsbo is the Marina Market.  In fact our visits are more in the nature of pilgrimages.  You see, I am one of those weird people who actually seek out the black jelly beans - I love licorice...  I confess, I am a licoricista.

    And the Marina Mart is kind of like a Mecca for me  - because they actually have a Licorice Shrine.  No, really!

    The Shrine

    Hundreds and hundreds of different kinds of licorice.  (Jane is reminding me about chocolate.  OK, if you are one of those strange chocolate people, they do that too.)

    The biggest problem I face when I visit the Marina Mart is that I can't buy one of everything.  And sadly, our visits seem to be far enough apart (and I am old enough) that I cannot remember what I sampled at the last visit.  Or what I thought of it.  But like the movie "Groundhog Day", that means every visit is a new and wonderful experience!

    Andrea is the owner - she is the one behind all this.  And I for one thank her.

    (Oh by the way, if you are in Poulsbo for the fireworks celebrating the birth of our Nation on July 3 - yes they do it a day early in Poulsbo - be sure to stop in.  And say that Bob & Jane sent you.)
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