Monday, January 28, 2013

The state of sailing on the Salish Sea

(I normally try to keep the posts in this blog positive and uplifting.  However there are times when that is not possible.  If you are a reader who looks for the positive, you should perhaps eschew this post -Ed.)

We went to the Seattle Boat Show this weekend.  This always serves for me as a barometer on the state of boating under sail here on Puget Sound (aka 'The Salish Sea' - subject for another post).  Now our boat show here is really two boat shows, run by two different organizations,  held simultaneously - one inside in the Exposition Center, and one in-the-water, held at South Lake Union - an interesting idea.

I felt pretty good about things afterwards.  In the indoor show, the number of sailboats (not counting Macgregor or the Hobies and other sit-on small boats) increased by 100% over last year.  That is, this year Beneteau had 2 boats inside - a nice showing.  For Beneteau anyway.  (Last year I ranted on this some, because we had taken our daughter and son in law and their very young kids to the show, hoping to get them aboard a couple of smaller sailboats.) 

The outdoor show also was an improvement over last year - there were a total of 16 sail boats available for boarding.  Catalina had 2 boats (35' and 38'), Hunter had 2 (27' and 33' - and by the way, that Hunter 27 is the only boat in the entire show that would have been suitable our kids...), Jenneau had 5 (33'-45'),  there was a Nauticat 37 and there was 1 catamaran (Lagoon 40).  The remainder were older used boats.

And I feel I must say this here - Jane and I prefer the older boats - where wood is used, it is teak - and there is lots of wood.  The modern boats, in an effort to stay just within reach financially have eschewed teak, and in the most budget-conscious boats, have even substituted laminates for wood entirely.  The charm of a traditional teak interior is impossible to beat.

As I say, I felt pretty good about the show.  And then I read this report by friends TJ & Deb of their visit to the Chicago boat show.  This is an indoor-only show (Chicago; winter).  And yet they had a much larger representation of sail boats than Seattle.  Look at the pictures!

And that got me thinking.  In my rant last year, I laid this problem at the feet of the Boat Show organizers.  But that is unfair - they simply bring the boats to the show that will sell.  Instead, it appears that it is simply the case that sailing is becoming less popular in Puget Sound.

As additional evidence, I offer these two observations:
  • When we first moved onto G Dock in 2000, it was pretty much a sail-only dock.  Oh sure, there were a few of the 2-story tall power boats, but they were scattered widely between the masts.  Today, the dock is almost entirely power boats, with a small enclave of sail out here on the very end, and a thin scattering of 4 or 5 masts towards shore.
  • There used to be three sailboat-only brokerages out here at Shilshole.  Now there is only one brokerage, and they deal with both sail and power.
And then there was the Boat Show.

What's happening?  Well, for one thing, I see no tangible interest on the part of the manufactures and dealers in selling the small boats - the ones that get folks hooked on sailing.  The 21' - 28' class boats - most are trailerable -  are the size that folks will be buying when they are just entering the sail marketplace.  I submit that a long-viewed manufacturer would sell boats in this size range almost at cost, knowing that he would be creating sales in the decades to come.  Two-foot-itus is a real thing, and young families outgrow smaller boats as kids appear.  

But maybe today's business climate does not allow unlimited loss-leaders.  OK, then how about Catalina or Hunter sponsor annual contests (500 words on "My dream under sail"?) with 5-boat giveaways in the 21-25 foot class.  That would whip up some interest.

And it should be possible to do something with the used boat marketplace as well.  Most used boats in the introductory size range now sell on craigslist.  Could a Catalina or Hunter dealer somehow sponsor a contest linked to craigslist sales?  Or perhaps they could partner with the sellers to offer boats as "dealer inspected and certified"?  This could be done with an at-cost charge to the seller, collected at the time of sale.

But I am not a businessman;  perhaps these are impractical ideas.  But you businessmen out there, you need to work on this.  I mean, come on.  How hard can it be to sell boats that move for free, when diesel is selling for $5 on the docks?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our G-Dock Heroine

Right across the dock from us, on s/v Ghost, we have a genuine credentialed heroine.

On Nov 20th, there was an electrical fire aboard Ghost; 10 year-old Ellie and Fathom the dog were the only ones aboard.  Ellie did the right things, in the right order to save the situation. 

And on January 18th she was awarded a special medal by the Seattle Fire Department for her courage. 

Way to go Ellie!

The Ballard News Tribune has the full story.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Potentially useful fact

Tonight I learned something while reheating dinner in the microwave: the wonderful stuffed green pepper Jane had made a couple of days ago.

The stuffing got hot, but the pepper did not.

Think about it:  green peppers are invisible to radar!

(Now what great invention can I make with this discovery?)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Strange Days

For the last three days, Seattle has been experiencing some very strange weather. We are living under the strongest inversion I have ever seen.

Here at sea level, we are immersed in a puddle of cold air whose temperature is right at freezing. More, there is a naggingly persistent heavy fog, which is freezing on the roads to black ice. Just plain nasty.

Yet just climb up a little and the sun is out, and it is warm! The high temperatures yesterday in the Olympic range were in the 50's, with one reading of 64°! In fact the puddle of cold air is so shallow that you can take an elevator to get above it!

For the full low-down on this, I'll refer you to our famous local weather blogger, Cliff Mass. He has made several posts about this phenomenon.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The tides, the view

This time of year, we experience the highest tides of the year.  This is caused by the position of the Earth in its orbit - tho it may be winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is actually at perihelion - its closest approach to the sun.

The "king" tides lift our boat so high that the breakwater in the marina is no obstruction at all to our western view, giving us a glimpse of that cross-sound view which makes us feel like a gardener with seeds - when it is too early to plant.

So here we sit, looking across the Sound with that seed catalog longing, dreaming and making plans for Spring.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The pain and joy

Mike and Rebecca of Zero to Cruising
(picture swiped from their blog, because it is so perfect)
Living here nearly on the 48th parallel, in January, there is a certain amount of mixed feelings associated with reading about fellow mariners in warm climates. You definitely share in the pleasure of the warm, white sand beaches, with palm trees gently swaying in the trade winds, the waves gently lapping...  ACK!

And here in Seattle right now, our heat pump is not quite adequate to the task of keeping Eolian at 70° inside - a little help from the diesel Dickenson is needed.

Waters so gorgeously blue that they are a cliché, and so clear that you can see your anchor in 30 feet...  as warm as bath water...  ACK!

The water here is 47° - I just went out into the cockpit and checked.  And let cold air into the cabin as a result.  No, you wouldn't want to swim here.  (You wouldn't want to swim here even in the summer - without a wetsuit, that is).  There were snow flurries here this morning.

But you guys - don't stop!  Keep up those postings - you are feeding us the warmth and sunshine that will keep us alive until spring.  We envy you, we rejoice with you, and we don't begrudge you your idyllic surroundings one bit.

 What?  No, no I didn't say anything.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bed-making yoga

Sleeping bags for bedding
Last nite, when we got back to Eolian after a long Christmas absence, neither Jane nor I felt up to tackling making the bed (OK, let's be frank - it's my job and I didn't feel up to it).  So my understanding wife and I sacked out in sleeping bags on the bare mattress. 

But there is no avoiding my tasks.  Today I must make the bed.  And because I enjoy it so much I am going to invite you along to help.

Get on those yoga clothes - you're going to need them.

The berth in the master cabin on Eolian accepts queen-sized bedding.  But with a twist.  All normal beds are rectangular, of course.  But not ours.  The bottom corners are chopped off because the hull turns in.  Oh yeah, and the bottom three feet or so are under the ledge formed by the aft deck lazarettes, above.  This last little detail just adds spice to the task, don't you think?  And it is the reason for the yoga togs we're wearing.

Clear the field
The first order of business?  Clear the field.  Get the sleeping bags back into their stuff sacks and stored where they normally go - into the storage compartments under the mattress.

Next on the agenda:  The bottom sheet.  You will note that we will be making the bed... while sitting on the bed!  No walking around the outside, grasshopper.  This just adds to the fun!

We use fitted sheets on Eolian, but that doesn't take you very far.  First, the mattress is thinner than a "normal" mattress, and then there are those cut-off corners...  How to make the sheet fit tightly (nobody likes loose sheets)?  Here, I've done the first bit of yoga and gotten the sheet into place.  And no, it isn't tight.  At all.  And you might also notice that I am working around the ex-electric blanket.  It is still attached to its umbilical, which runs under the mattress.  So I have to shove it over to one side, arrange the sheet, and then shove it over to the other side and arrange the sheet again.  All for an electric blanket that doesn't work.

Garters - the answer to a man's dream
So how do we make the sheet tight?  When we first moved aboard, Jane was discussing this very problem with a sales clerk at Fred Meyer (Jane is bold that way).  Amazingly, the clerk told Jane that other customers had found these garters to be the very thing to solve the problem.  Isn't it great living in a maritime community?

What we do is pull up the corners of the mattress, stretch the garters across the corners of the sheet, under the mattress.  Then you just tuck the extra material in under the garter.  I'm sorry that this and the next couple of pictures came out blurry because I rushed the camera.  But I'm not going to take apart the bed to get better ones. 

By doing this, the sheet is so tight that when you let the mattress go back down after applying the last garter, it does so kind of reluctantly.  And the sheet is tight as a drum.  All thanks to a knowledgeable sales clerk in Fred Meyer

OK, take a sip of beer.  You were drinking a beer weren't you?  The hardest part is done.

Now apply the top sheet.  Tuck those bottom corners in all the way - otherwise a covers-stealing spouse might be able to sneak away your sheet.

Repeat with the ex-electric blanket.  I have blamed the inverter for the demise of several electric blankets on Eolian, but really, I think it is the folding and jamming that occurs at those bottom corners that causes them to fail.

And now, finally, the comforter.  (Tuck those corners in!)  Place the pillows carefully, but cheerfully on the bed to give a picture of planned casualness.

And, now you may finish that beer.  Boat yoga and beer are natural partners.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

New year's resolutions

'Tis the season.  Every blogger worth his or her salt is doing a post about New Year's resolutions.   Universally, they will deal with such important things as losing weight, working on relationships, etc.  But not on this blog, no siree, not here.

Here we deal with life aboard.  And our new year's resolutions correspond.

This is indeed the season for it.  At least this once a year, you must take off those salt-encrusted rose colored glasses and make a frank assessment of which of your major projects will be for this year. 

You can't escape it - new boat or old, of course there will be projects - something you have been putting off, something that needs to be fixed or repaired, some new piece of boat jewelry to be procured, (and then installed!).  Something you have been avoiding, perhaps.  Something you have been avoiding, more than likely.

So here and now, make that resolution.  Resolve to take on that difficult project. 

Come on - you know you have one.   And what better time than now?

So, what's your project? 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's at Nason Creek

A little more than half way down the east side of Cascades, our three days at a snow-bound cabin at Nason Creek had it all:
  • The advertised snow. There was 3-4 feet on the ground, with more in places. We had to dig down to the lid on the propane tank, and had to shovel out the swings on this playhouse.
  • Snow angels.
  • Sledding. 
  • Snow ice cream
  • Dogs going nuts in the snow.
  • Skiing at Stevens Pass (20 minutes away).
  • There were ample adult beverages.
  • There were Christmas presents.
  • There was the infamous incident of the shot-ski.
  • There was hot tubbing in the snow.
And there was family time. Lots of family time - it was the sea we swam in for a time.

But I will cherish forever a magical time-stopped moment when Grampa and Hazel, separated by 64 years, had a quiet conversation while sitting side by side in two swings out in the snow. The subject, you ask? I promised not to tell.

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