Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New year, new beginning

There are cultures which set aside a day for the forgiveness of debts. 

I imagine that this forgiveness does not extend to financial debts, but perhaps it does.  But it is not the financial debts that are the most troubling.  Instead, it is those debts piled up by insults, slights, comments and actions, whether intentional or not, that we carry around inside of us, much to our detriment.

Unforgiven, these debts eat away at our happiness, and if carried long enough, our very souls.  Eventually they will rule our lives.

I think using the New Year as a marker, as a day of reconciliation in our emotional lives is a good idea.

So here's my New Year's resolution:  To start the new year with a clean slate.  To discard all those emotional debts accumulated over the last year.  To start the New Year Happy!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

The wonder of new batteries

Well, nearly new
Eolian has new batteries. 

We bought them a year and a half ago, when the old ones would no longer hold enough electricity to make Jane's morning latte at anchor.

Last year when I performed my annual battery maintenance, I found that they needed quite a bit of distilled water (harvested from our dehumidifier, natch!).  But since I had never checked them when they were brand new, I didn't know what water level they came with.  So I didn't really know if I was re-filling them, or just filling them.

This year, the first where the initial conditions were known and established as full, I topped off the seven batteries using a cup and a half of water.  That's simply amazing.  In past years with the old batteries, I'd need most of a gallon.

And Jane's morning latte is safe, so all is right with the world!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The old curmudgeon down at the end of G Dock extends his hand, and we grasp it. He
covers our hand with his other one and shakes twice, firmly.

And he says, “Merry Christmas t'ye and t'yer family.  Keep 'em close.  And let's all pray for peace.”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thru the darkness

Joy, in the darkness.
We made it.

We are on the other side of the Winter Solstice.  It occurred here in Seattle at 09:11 on Saturday (YMMV, depending on your timezone).  The sunrise was at 07:55 and sunset at 16:20 - that's a really short day.  But worse, in true Seattle fashion we have had a heavy cloud cover for quite a while, making even the daylite at noon minimal.  And when the sun does shine, it comes in at this weird very low angle, making the light reddish.  Subliminally, it seems like late evening, even when it is noon.

The Christmas lites we see everywhere add some very needed joy in the darkness.  I don't think it was a coincidence that the early Church fathers put the Christmas celebration in the dead of winter.  More than at any other time of year, we need the joy to counteract the darkness.

Today, the daylite is three seconds longer.  Woo hoo!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's aliiive!

There is froth in there

(Cue maniacal laughter and phony German accent)   Bwa ha ha ha haaaa!  I haf created da life!

Inspired by Valerie's efforts on s/v Letitgo, I have made now two batches of baguettes, and will soon be graduating to the use of a levain.

What's that you ask (rhetorically)?  Why it is a natural leavening, consisting of a culture of yeast and bacteria.  You might have heard it called "starter" or "sourdough starter".

How do you make it?  (Aren't rhetorical questions great?)  It really couldn't be easier.  No really.  You mix flour and water in equal proportions and leave it out on the counter to spoil.  That's it.  Give it a shake once a day or so.  The yeasts and bacteria that are in the air everywhere, that are in every breath we take, and who were here on the Earth long before we were, will colonize the medium. 

But wait - how do you get the right yeast and the right bacteria?  This is one of those rare, rare situations...  No matter which yeasts and which bacteria initially colonize the medium, there will be new arrivals every day.  Eventually, the strongest, fittest ones will survive and dominate, pushing the others towards local extinction.  And in a truly weird twist of nature, no matter where you are in the world, it is these same battle survivor species that are the ones you want.  It's almost as if dandelions were the desirable species for yards.  You'd scrape off your yard, and yes, eventually it'd be carpeted with a beautiful green and yellow display, with no effort on your part.

So in my levain, the early colonists are busy building homes, and the battle is just beginning.  Now that there is life in there, I will periodically dump half of the levain and replace it with fresh flour and water.  The colonists need food, after all.

In a couple of weeks it'll be ready for use in bread making.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The waiting

The pink flag flies for the third time!

Ah, the waiting.

I've said it before - the waiting is just plain hard.  As a grandparent you are one step removed.  You are not in labor, but you know that someone is, and that person is painfully busy in the process of bringing a new life into the world.  

Now don't get me wrong - the waiting is nothing compared to the labor itself.  Anyone calling the female gender the "weaker sex" has quite clearly never been present at a birth. 

Annie Leonabelle Salnick
But finally, at 20:09 December 13, the waiting was over.  After 30 hours of labor, Kaci & Adam gave life to their first child and our third grandchild - please welcome Annie Leonabelle Salnick!  Annie has a displacement of 7 pounds 3 ounces and an LOA of 20 inches.  With that displacement/LOA ratio she should be fast!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013


New addition!
There's a new addition to Eolian's Christmas decorations this year:  that Christmas tree on the bow pulpit!   We got it a couple of years ago in the after-Christmas clearance sales for $5, I think.  There was a surprise when I turned it on for the first time... It slowly (or quickly!  adjustable!) changes from white to blue and back again.  Cool!  Goes with the blue lites strung up the forestay, across the triatic and down to the mizzen boom.

And that brings us to the frustration.

Before I strung those blue lites up again this year, I plugged them in to check them.  There was only one segment in the first strand that was lit - all but one of the segments were dark.  And there were dark segments in the second and third strands as well.  So I painstakingly went thru, LED by LED, to look for problems.  What I found was discouraging. 

It seems that these particular LEDs have leads made of iron.  I am not familiar with the manufacturing process for LEDs, but one would suspect that those intended for use in an outdoor environment would not use tiny, fine, iron wires.  Nevertheless, these did.  That pile of bulbs represents hours of fingernail-tearing work in the cold, pulling hundreds of bulbs.  The failures all had leads which had disintegrated into rust powder.  And perhaps not surprisingly, the fixtures themselves are only vaguely waterproof.  I suppose I am getting my just deserts for buying the cheapest lite strands I could find.

So, after I finally had all the segments glowing once more, I strung them up.


One segment went out (it's near the mizzen mast). 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hosting a cruiser in your home

On the Sail Magazine website there was a recent posting giving advice on how to host a cruiser in your home. 
Congratulations on your decision to host a visiting cruiser in your home. I’m sure you’re excited to reconnect and hear stories from his or her exotic life afloat. Be warned, though, that even a short time away from the cruising life can be difficult for a cruiser. Luckily, with a little foresight, it shouldn’t be hard to ease his or her transition to your landlubbing life, and turn the visit into a rewarding experience...
If you are in a position to do this, I highly recommend you read the article - it will help you make things more comfortable for both you and your cruiser.

(And a shout-out to Livia on s/v Estrellita 5.10b, currently in Tahiti, who saw this before I did!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stitch 'n glue

Step 1: one side and one end glued

We're doing a little stich n' glue construction here aboard Eolian.  Well, maybe not so much stitch, but plenty of glue for sure.  These are gingerbread houses under construction here.  The glue is powdered sugar with just enough water to make it barely fluid.  (If you should decide to try this, beware - it takes less water than you might think, and the slightest additional amount will make the "mortar" too runny.) 

We are making three of them - one each for Hazel and Eliza (Ken and Erica's children).   We are also making one for Monkey  - Adam and Kaci's child, due any day now! - called "Monkey" because the gender will be a surprise - how great is that?  We have both the blue and pink flags at the ready.  (How's that for a sneaky way to announce an impending addition to the crew of Eolian?)

Step 2: Assemble with more mortar

Step 3: Call in the roofers

Step 4: ... and the decorators
This was really fun to watch!  Hazel (standing) is 3½ and did a wonderful job of decorating.  But Eliza, at 2, was much more interested in eating the decorations.  In fact, the construction manager's primary responsibility was to keep enough marshmallows in front of Eliza that she could be persuaded to actually put the occasional one on the house.

Ta da!
I wonder if they will make it to Christmas...

 Monkey's didn't make it - Rainier The Raider did some counter surfing and left behind only the paper plate foundation...


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cold weather's a comin'

Here's something that you probably don't think about when you're living ashore...  The weather forecast has some decidedly cold (by Seattle standards, anyway) weather coming next week.  Below freezing.  So cold that water turns into... a solid!

And our water tanks are very low.  Murphy says that we will run out of water aboard when the water hose on the dock is frozen solid.  And when I am taking a shower.  Murphy is such an SOB.

So this afternoor, while it is still warm (54°) outside, I filled our tanks.  We now have 300+ gallons of water aboard, where Murphy can't get at it.

Crap - I can't believe I just said that.  Now our water pump will probably fail.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

On giving thanks

Because I don't think I can improve on it, I am reposting something I wrote in 2011...

In many cultures there is a harvest festival or feast, celebrating the end of the toil in the fields, growing and harvesting the food for the winter, and before the start of the rationing needed to make that harvest last until the first crops of the spring are available.

Americans have set aside the forth Thursday in November as such a holiday.  I have no familiarity with the harvest feast customs elsewhere, but in the United States, while there is typically a feast (turkey-based, traditionally), this also is a time of reflection, of recognition of the bounty which we receive on a daily basis (would you rather be the King of England in 1263, or you, today?  Yeah, exactly). 

It doesn't seem too much to spend one day in an attitude of thankfulness for our bounty.  So no matter where in the world you might be, please join us aboard Eolian in giving thanks for:
  • Our friends and families who are there for us, giving support in our times of need, and are there also on a daily basis to fulfill that most basic human need: companionship. We are all in this together.
  • The most amazing assortment of food available to mankind, in the history of the world, and all year round to boot (do any of you still remember receiving an orange for Christmas, and why that was so special?) 
  • Energy and technology that would make us all, every one, to be taken as Class 5 Wizards to those living but 100 years ago.
  • Peace, and the freedom to live our lives according to our desires (for the most part)
  • Those who gave up their time, their health, or their very lives in the service of this country that we might enjoy these things.
  • [Please add 5 items of your own here]
So, from the crew aboard Eolian, happy Thanksgiving.  But more importantly, may you have a thoughtful, contemplative, thankful Thanksgiving!

Bob & Jane


Monday, November 25, 2013

Matryoshka* Pepper

Look what I found when I cut open a red bell pepper to make dinner tonite:  A little green pepper inside!

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matryoshka_doll

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How many miles?

How many miles does it take?

  • There are no jackrabbit starts.
  • There are no sliding stops.
  • There are no high-speed corners, no limited slip differential to cause extra wear.
There is only placid, walking pace rolling.  So how many miles have these dock cart wheels traveled, up and down the docks, such that the rubber tires have been worn completely away, leaving the fiberglass wheels in contact with the dock?

How many years did it take to create this wear?  I suspect that this cart (and many others like it, also still in service) were new when Shilshole was a new marina, in 1962.

So let's assume that a cart makes 2 round trips down the dock every day.  G Dock is a little over 1000 feet long, but we'll make the calculation simpler by assuming that it is 1320 feet, a quarter mile.  Then those two round trips total one mile.  A mile per day, times 365 days per year, times 50 years equals 18,250 miles.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Murphy was our dinner guest

What's wrong with this picture?

Last Friday, an hour or so before our dinner guests (the crew of s/v Ghost) were scheduled to arrive, I noticed that our heat pump was blowing cold air.  It had been working fine for weeks/months/years.  Until then.

Of course, with that timing there was no opportunity to look into the problem.  So we lit the Dickenson heater and went on with the dinner as scheduled.  And then when we went to bed, I put out the Dickenson because I don't like to sleep with it lit.

So this morning, it was not exactly warm inside Eolian...  50°F. That's pretty cold sleeping.

And so this morning I had some immediate tasks to attend to.  First was to relight the Dickenson.  Then to make Jane her latte, of course.  Then finally to look into the heat pump failure.

Here's what I believe happened:  Yesterday afternoon and evening were quite windy, and there was enough easting in the wind to have Eolian tight against the dock, surging back and forth against the fenders.  So how is this relevant?

Apparently the movement of the boat had the fenders squished against the outlet fitting where the chilled exhaust water from the heat pump exits, blocking the flow.  Blocking the flow momentarily would not seem to be a major issue.  But with a longer interruption there is a problem.  Recall that the heat pump is withdrawing heat from the water to heat the boat, chilling the water in the process.  With the flow blocked, the water froze in the heat exchanger, permanently blocking the flow, even after the outlet fitting was uncovered. 

When I started the heat pump this morning, water circulation began immediately.  And inspection of the heat exchanger showed that there was no leakage.

Now I gotta relocate those fenders.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Undead Varnish

You may recall that I am in the process of refinishing the most-used portions of Eolian's interior.  The work has gone well - until the desk that is.

Here something very strange is happening.  Apparently there are zombies buried under the old finish.  A light sanding followed by a fresh coat had this result:  immediately after application, the old finish bubbled up, almost as if  it was stripper I had applied instead of varnish.  When the new varnish dried, I sanded off the ruined finish and applied another coat:  same result.  I know it is difficult to see in the picture, but when looking at the actual desk surface, there is a pattern visible - the bubbled sections look like wide brush strokes.

It was me that applied that old finish on the desk - 15 years ago - just the same as all the other portions of Eolian's interior that I have already successfully refinished.  I can think of no explanation for this undead varnish rising up under the new finish.

Update:  I decided that the only solution is to scape the zombie varnish brains completely off:
Stripper removes zombie varnish brains


Thursday, November 7, 2013

New record!

New record: 43 kt
Last Saturday introduced us to the first of our winter storms. It was well and accurately forecast, so everyone on the dock was prepared.

And it was a doozy!  The winds were pretty much continuously over 30 kt - now in a 'normal' storm, a 30 kt gust will really wake you up.  But in this storm, 30 kt pretty much became the background - a canvas on which the bigger gusts were painted.

Whenever there were a flurry of these bigger gusts, I went out into the cockpit to see what the anemometer was showing.  And each time I saw a reading higher than the one I had previously photographed, I took a new photo.  This one shows the biggest gust I saw - 43 kt - a new record high here at the dock!

The force of the wind goes up as the square of its speed.  This means that this gust had nearly 5 times the destructive power of 20 kt wind!  The marina sent out staff to secure the lids of dock boxes, after one blew open, was ripped loose and blew off the dock entirely.  Needless to say, power outages were common all over the Seattle area, but everyone out at the end of G Dock came thru unscathed.  During the worst of it, several of us were out walking the dock, checking lines and looking for unsecured items.

Here comes the next one! (Picture stolen from Cliff Mass' blog)
And now there is another storm forecast for tomorrow.

Welcome to winter!

Monday, November 4, 2013

An end to chopsticks

Chopsticks are Jane's go-to tools, whatever the problem.  This frequently has me looking all over for them when I make a Thai curry for dinner.

One of the most frequent problems she solves with chopsticks is the escape of our wine glasses from the wine glass rack attached to the underside of the cabinet above the galley sinks.  She jams a chopstick diagonally into each "track" to keep the glasses from jumping ship in a seaway.

In January of 2012 I shamelessly used Small Boat Projects (my other blog) to solicit ideas on how to remedy the escaping wine glass problem, sadly having drawn a blank myself (I am embarrassed to admit that).

That was nearly two years ago.  The many  50  3 of you who read both blogs probably thought that I had forgotten the whole thing.  Not so.

A lot of great ideas came in - thank you for lending me your creativity!  What I ended up with is a combination of a couple of the ideas you let me have...

First, I bought a package of small neodymium magnets; they are 1/4" in diameter and perhaps 1/16" thick.  I got them at a local hardware store (Hardwicks) that is still in the old mold - it is a jam-packed building with stuff stuck everywhere in every nook and cranny.  All the regular things you'd expect to see in any hardware store, but also unusual stuff that somehow crept in and hid itself in odd places.

Next, I cut a teak strip sized to close off the exits of the wine glass tracks in the rack.  It is the same thickness as the bottom strap of the rack so that it will lay flat when it is in the open position.

Then I used a 1/4" forstner  bit to bore holes just deep enough to accommodate the magnets - two in the teak strip, and two at the matching points in the rack.  I then epoxied the magnets into the holes.

Finally, I applied a pair of tiny hinges to the teak retainer strip, located in such a way that when the strip is folded up, it closes off the exit tracks and ends up flush with the edges of the track pieces.

And then, finally, a few coats of varnish and mounting.

Retainer open

Retainer closed

I had originally planned to let a couple of the magnets into the bottom of the cabinet to hold the retainer strip in the open position.  At the moment, the hinges are stiff enough that this is not required (I probably got some varnish in there). 

One thing that made the job a little tricky...  the magnets are unmarked as to N or S poles.  And they are tiny little things.  With my big clumsy fingers it was all too easy to flip them over unintentionally, and more important, unknowingly.  It would have been a disaster if I got one of them glued into position upside down...  I tested (and retested...) with a spare magnet to make sure that I had the polarity correct.

Finally, a tip of the hat to the readers of Small Boat Projects who contributed suggestions!  Thanks - I couldn't have done this without you!

(And a rhetorical question:  Why don't the manufacturers of the wine glass rack do this?)



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Getting the oil filter off

We have reached that portion of the year when boats are being tucked in for long winter naps.  This is an excellent time to change the oil in your engine so that it rests all winter with fresh, non-acidic oil.

This means that it is time to change the oil filter.  And there we are all faced with the same problem:  That filter which was so carefully installed, following the manufacturer's recommendation to only turn it 3/4 of a turn after the gasket contacts (they even paint little marks on the filter to help you determine this)?  That filter which was installed with your bare hands and nothing more?  Well it is now welded to the engine.  What went on with bare hands is by no means coming off that way.

Man is the tool maker.  No matter the difficulty, he has invented a tool to overcome it.   Removing a stuck oil filter is no exception - since the spin-on oil filter replaced the element-in-a-canister, many tools have been invented to deal with the seemingly inevitably recalcitrant filter.

On Eolian, I use a rubber strap wrench to loosen the oil filters on the engine and the generator:

Strap Wrench
This tool is cleverly designed so that the harder you pull on the handle to turn a cooked-on filter, the tighter the strap grips the casing of the filter.  It is a one-size-fits-all tool - all you need to do to adjust it is to pull on the strap.

But not every filter is mounted where there is enough free space to swing the handle of this wrench.  In my shop I have a couple of alternatives which have served me well working on automotive engines over the years. 

Mechanic's metal strap wrench

This is another kind of strap wrench - but on this one the strap is a metal band, and it has no handle.  Instead, you use your 3/8" ratchet wrench with an extension as a handle, which allows it to be used in much tighter quarters.  Needless to say, you can apply much more torque with this tool than with the rubber strap wrench.  This tool does not have the range of adjustment of the rubber strap wrench; nevertheless it has worked on every Ford and GM filter I've used it on.  It wouldn't fit the small oil filter on Eolian's generator tho.

"The Crusher"

Next is a tool that grips the filter from the end.  For really tight spaces this is the ideal tool.  As torque is applied to the nut, a cam action pulls the two grippers tighter and tighter together, eventually crushing the body of the filter.  No way can this slip.

I do not use the 'socket wrench' type of filter grippers - those cup-like things that have an interior contour like the shape of the end of the filter body.  First, all the filters are different, so you need to have a collection of them.  And they don't grip nearly as securely as the tools above.

Finally, when all else fails, more than one desperate mechanic (possibly including your correspondent) has simply driven a screwdriver clear through an oil filter and used it as a lever to turn it.  This method is crude, messy, and effective.

Whatever tool you use, it is a good idea to put on a new filter once a year.  Filters are cheap; engines are expensive. 

Now go get dirty.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Contemporary figurehead

Look who's the figurehead on this modern racing boat: Mermaid Barbie!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A modest proposal

In science and engineering, the units used to express a quantity are typically chosen so that the number of places either before or after the decimal point are not excessive.  This makes for easy reading, and lowers the risk of a mistake (were there 7 zeros between the decimal and the '3', or were there there 6?  Better count again.)

In the boaters' world, prices and expenses are high enough that dollars have proven to be inadequate as a unit of measure.  This explains the near ubiquitous use of 'boat buck' (for you readers not fully in the boating world, a 'boat buck' is 100 regular bucks).

But we boaters are suffering from an identity problem here.  All the other currencies of the world have a symbol to identify them.  I propose that we in the boating world need a symbol for the 'boat buck'.  Without a symbol, we have no street cred.

So I started a search - through HTML and then Unicode.  My first find was (I will always show the symbol with a quantity, as it would be used): ฿1.95.  It looks great and invokes the boat buck concept by virtue of being derived from a 'B'.  Sadly, the reason that it looks so appropriately like a currency symbol is that it is a currency symbol: for the Thai currency baht.  Well.  Boating is international, and so we can't risk errors of interpretation by overloading the symbol (are you listening NASA?).  Rats.

Next, for your viewing pleasure, I have another submission: Ƀ1.88.  This is not a currency symbol anywhere in the world, at least that I could find.  To enter it (other than by copying/pasting) might seem a little complicated...  you use this collection of letters (without the enclosing single quotes):    'Ƀ'  That might seem like a lot of typing, but with use, it would become not much different than using the degree symbol: 70° by typing '70°'

And then there is perhaps the simplest version:  a strike-thru capital B:  B2.45.  Easy peasey.

Any other suggestions out there?  Which do you think we should use?

Sadly, in these days of inflation, even the boat buck is inadequate in enough cases to have spawned yet another unit of measure: the 'boat unit', where

1 'boat unit' = Ƀ10.00 = $1000 

Yet another symbol is called for.  I humbly submit this proposal:

ℬ1.000 = Ƀ10.00 = $1000

This symbol represents the Bernoulli function, and thus will never be confused with a currency.  It is produced with the characters:  'ℬ'.

Now, only accountants and gas station operators represent dollars to 3 decimal places - the rest of us are accustomed to using only two.  For the Ƀ, two places allow direct visual translation to dollars.  But please note that for the , I have provided three - two do not provide sufficient precision. 

Any other suggestions out there for the boat unit?

(I plan to begin using these unit symbols immediately, with a link back to this post as a means of explanation.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Greed, personified

(I already know this is a crappy picture - no comments, please)
The movie "Finding Nemo" really had the character of seagulls down to perfection.  All too frequently, we see a seagull who has taken on a starfish.  And like this guy, they'll have one arm down their throat, while the starfish is hanging on with all it's remaining arms to the seagull's neck for evedrything it's worth. 

The battle between the two living creatures sometimes takes as much as an hour.  But I've never seen the seagull lose.

Greed triumphs.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wile Coyote is my mentor

Don't look down...
You remember those Road Runner cartoons, right?  The ones where the coyote runs right off the edge of the cliff and then keeps on running - on thin air - until he suddenly realizes that there is nothing beneath him but air.  Then zip!  And a distant poomph! as a small dust cloud is raised at the ground far below.

So far retirement feels sort of like that.  But not the sudden drop part, and that's just the point.  I have kept on with life just as before, pretty much.  There haven't been many 'empty' times, and I've not yet had time to finish the second book in the Game of Thrones series.

I feel like Wile while he is running on air, just before the point in the picture above.  Every footstep is just like the last one, and the one before that, even tho the cliff is no longer supporting me.

And everything will continue to be OK.

Just as long as I don't think about it and I don't look down.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Foggy morn

The fog horns are blowing here in Seattle this morning, echoing my mood.

We had Helmut and Dominic over for dinner last nite, for the last time.  s/v Nevada Faye will be hauled out tomorrow for transport to Conneticut, from whence she will sail to Germany.

Well, we think that's what will happen.  I spent some time on the phone with Dominic at my side this morning, trying to help salvage the plans they had made - salvage was needed because their hauler had become ill and could not transport the boat.  So, a visit to the yard to nail down details and then the time on the phone and another hauler was arranged.  Situation sorted.

Nevada Faye will get her masts pulled tomorrow morning at low tide (to give the crane enough headroom), and should be on the hard on stands later in the day, or possibly Wednesday, depending on how the prep work goes and the yard schedule.  The boat leaves Thursday, and Helmut and Dominic fly back to Germany on Friday, leaving behind an empty slip and a big hole in our hearts.

Helmut and Dominic are two of the most congenial folks you'd ever meet.

They will be missed out here on the end of G Dock.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nano experiment

I'm excited to try this nano stuff.  

For the experiment, I chose the subject to be our fabric sea hood.  (Yeah, I know what you're gonna say.  Building a real, solid sea hood is on the agenda.  But that's why this is such a good candidate for the test.)

When the hatch is closed, there is no support for the fabric so it collapses into a shallow depression that holds water. And because the hatch is closed, and its wet all winter, mildew runs rampant on it. Opening and closing the hatch, which will also go on all winter, will give it some good mechanical exercise too. 

Applying NeverWet is a two-step process.  Following the directions, I applied Part One and waited 30 minutes for it to dry.  Part One was completely clear.  It smelled suspiciously like an acrylic enamel going on, and it stiffened the fabric - just like an acrylic enamel would.  At this point I was really happy that I had chosen a part of the dodger that is scheduled for removal as the experimental subject.

After 30 minutes, I applied Part Two.  This is an entirely different composition, and apparently uses an alcohol as the solvent.  As advertised, it left the fabric with a white, frosted appearance.  Once again, I was glad for the choice of experimental subject.

It will be many months before this test can be declared a success or a failure.  But the results the next morning, were pretty amazing.  The dew was scattered over the surface like a field of diamonds, and a few fat drops had consolidated and swept up their near-microscopic brethren, leaving dry trails behind them. 


  • Really, really hydrophobic coating!


  • $18.75 for coating to cover 10 ft2.  That's $1.88/ft2
  • Substantially stiffens the fabric
  • Leaves a white, frosted appearance on the fabric (might be OK for white fabric)

Addendum:  After Rain

If you look closely, you'll see actual air, under the water


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Doubled Docklines

Mixed feelings.

I have mixed feelings about this time of year.  On the one hand, the weather has made it uncomfortable to be off the dock.  It is cold; rain is frequent. Winter storms are lining up out there in the North Pacific, jockeying for position to attack the Pacific Northwest, one after the other.  The sun is visible less and less every day, not just because of the now ubiquitous clouds, but because the tilt of the Earth's axis and its progress around its orbit puts the sun lower and lower in the sky every day.

But on the other hand, the "nesting instinct" returns at full strength this time of year.  We like to think we are "above" the animal kingdom, that we are too "advanced" for the instincts that govern the behavior of the lower animals to affect us.  What bunk! 

Perhaps because of my retirement, for the first time ever, we enter the stormy season with all the preparations completed:
  • Docklines have been doubled.  
  • The winter fenders have been added.  
  • All the failing seams in the cockpit canvas and a total of eight new (YKK #10) zippers have been installed.  
  • The sail covers have been completely restitched. 
  • The annual brightwork refinishing tasks are done.
  • The prop nut zinc has been changed.
  • The spreaders have been inspected and repainted.
We are ready.  And there is huge satisfaction in that.  We have evolved so that complying with those instincts is one of the most satisfying things we can do.

So yes, mixed feelings.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Workshop again

With the additional time that retirement brings, I am tackling some things that had been too low on the priority stack for too long. 
First project: freshen up the finish in the galley. This area gets probably the heaviest usage of any on the boat. That, coupled with grease mist from cooking these last 15 years has made refinishing here a priority. 

I am using Interlux Goldspar Satin for this. And once again, I find that the $40/qt varnish is worth every single penny. It goes on easily and self-levels to a gorgeous smooth satin finish.  I can't recommend it highly enough. 
And of course, with the workshop occupying the saloon table and the galley disabled for all intents and purposes, we've had a spate of eating out.  Well, except for last nite - last nite was our 42nd wedding anniversary, and we stayed in for that (yeah, that is an empty wine bottle - some of the good stuff).


Monday, September 30, 2013

It's now a reality

Remember this post about an amazing nano-tech super hydrophobic coating?  Seemed pretty exotic at the time, didn't it?

Well, technology marches on.  Rust-Oleum now markets it, and it is available at Home Depot (and presumably your own local big box home construction store).

At $18.75 for the kit, it is well worth testing, so I will.  I'll buy a kit and use it on the center section of our bimini top (when it quits raining, that is).

I'll write more once I've done that...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

...aand there's more

If you thought the forecast for last Friday was bleak, well, it's gotten worse.  Here's the trunk of Jane's 1965 Mustang full of our "winter" fenders:

Only three will fit

Indeed it is worse... the forecast for tonite is for 50 kt wind:
230 PM PDT SUN SEP 29 2013


I should point out that the wind's potential to cause damage rises dramatically with the speed (by the square).  That is, as compared with 20 kt, wind of 40 kt has not twice, but four times the force of its 20 kt little brother.  It's gonna be lively here at the dock tonite.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That's a wrap

It's not warm here in Port Madison this morning. In fact, at 11:00 the temperature outside has just barely managed to climb above 50° F.

All good things must come to an end; Seattle's most amazing Endless Summer is no exception.  I think we have reached it: The End.  We have had the Dickenson running ever since I got up this morning and the temperature here in the cabin is 68°, so we are comfortable.  The NOAA marine forecast is telling us that we should dock tomorrow (and as always, at slack water, which occurs at 11:37 and 17:32 - we'll take the 11:37 one):
900 AM PDT WED SEP 25 2013

(After all, no one wants to try to dock in 25 kt if it can be avoided...)

I still have to change out the propnut zinc, and Thursday afternoon's weather looks like it is as good as it will get for that task, for the rest of the year.

I have a bittersweet feeling.  It is the end.  But at the same time I am full of the memories of the most wonderful summer ever.  We are out here trying to eke out just one more day, but at the same time, the subconscious nesting impulses are getting nearly irresistible - for us that means that we need to button the boat up for the winter, to get the extra fenders out for the coming winter storms.

I think I am ready.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blowin' a Hoolie

"The bee's knees", "blowin' a hoolie", and "earlier than sparrow fart".

Kath, nb Bobcat
What do these phrases have in common?  They (and several others) were all uttered by Kath of nb Bobcat.

We had the distinct pleasure of hosting Kath and Rob both at our home on Camano and aboard (however briefly) Eolian this past weekend.  They were on a trip to British Columbia and took the time to journey down to the USA to be with us for a couple of brief days.

It has been said that the Americans and the British are peoples separated by a common language.  There is some truth to this, as the common usage for a number of items is different in surprising ways - for example, you readers in the UK will understand what I mean when I announced that I was pulling an old pair of pants out of the console of our car.  My American readers, on the other hand, will have no idea what the consternation was...

Rob, demonstrating  a proper tea ceremony
Kath and Rob are wonderful, down-to-earth people.  They too are splitting their time between house and boat:  Rob's house (which incidentally houses a surprising number of classic Ducati motorcycles) and narrow boat Bobcat - 58' LOA x 7' beam x 19" draft.  Between the marine connection and the classic motor vehicles, we found that we had no shortage of things to talk about.

In fact, the brief time we had together was simply not enough.  I wish, for example, that it had not been "blowin' a hoolie", so that we could have taken Eolian off the dock - and that we had had enough time to make it for a couple of days.  Ah well.

Kath and Rob have offered to return the favor (favour?), and we are giving this thoughtful consideration.  I have written before about the entirely civilized way narrow boating is done, and I must confess that there is a serious attraction...


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So: Is it any different?

(courtesy of www.hdwallpapersinn.com)

Today is the first day that I can lay claim to being retired.  My last day of work was last Thursday, but today is the first day I would have gone to work, if I was still working that is.

Does it feel different?  Well, no, I can't say that it does.  To me, it feels like just another day of weekend.   And with my previous 3-day/week schedule, there were always plenty of those.

What I don't feel:  That giddy, start-of-vacation feeling, that giant release that the last day of school gives.  None of that.

I suppose this might disappoint some of you nearing retirement.  You might be looking for confirmation that the grass really is greener on the other side.

So far, all I can say is that it is the same grass...


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Still #1

In case you haven't been folowing, this has been going on for a while...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sandpaper origami

Sandpaper comes in standard sheets that are 9"x11". I know of no tool that uses the full-sized sheets, and this is certainly too big to use for hand sanding.  For hand sanding, start with a quarter of the full-sized sheet.  When splitting down the big sheet, cut on a fold, from the paper side of the sheet so as to minimize the damage to the knife (here I am using one of our galley knives - don't tell Jane).

Start with a quarter of a full-sized sheet

If you then just fold the quarter sheet into quarters, there will be grit-sides of the sandpaper in contact.  This will dull the grit and cause it to shed abrasives.  To prevent this, follow this procedure:

First fold the quarter sheet in half, paper side in, the short way:

Fold in half the short way

Next, open it up and fold in half the long way.  Both folds should be creased firmly.

Fold in half the long way

Now open up the paper.  It should look sort of like a tent, or a roof with four gables.

Looks like a tent

Along one of the short folds, tear the paper carefully, to the center of the sheet.

Tear one of the short folds to the center

Fold one of the resulting flaps under,

Fold the flap under
And then fold the doubled flap under...

Then fold the doubled side under

Et voilà!   A perfectly sized piece of sandpaper for hand work, with no grit sides facing each other.  Two sides are exposed; when they are dull, you can refold the paper to expose the unused sides.

And by the way... when all four sides have become dull, don't keep sanding in a vain attempt to save money on sandpaper.  Get another quarter sheet - that's what the pros would do, because their labor is worth more than the price of a quarter sheet of sandpaper.  Yours is too.

[Editor's note: Also, don't scrimp when purchasing the sandpaper - buy the good stuff.  Here I am using Norton's open-coated aluminum oxide paper.  It stays sharp a long, long time, and because it is open-coated it is very resistant to clogging - even in 220 grit.]
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