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!


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?)


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