Monday, October 27, 2014

Deck Leak!

Deck leaks are the bane of boats.  TJ on s/v Kintala once remarked that he had difficulty seeing why a boat deck should leak more than a house roof.  Well, first of all, boat decks are virtually flat, and everyone knows that it is not trivial to keep water from finding its way thru a flat roof.  Next, boat decks have hundreds of penetrations - screws mounting fittings, trim, geegaws, etc.  Each and every screw is a potential leak point.  Each one.  And an amazing amount of water can come thru the tiniest of holes.

For years, Eolian's decks have been leak-free.  But this fall with the onset of the winter rains, water started running down the port side of the cabin.  This isn't my first rodeo tho.  I immediately pulled out my trusty blue tape and hastily constructed an exotic guttering system (the Mayans would have been amazed!) to direct the water into a catch basin.  This was a temporary measure, of course, to prevent damage while the search for the source of the leak went on.

The first measure was to replace the nearby fixed port.  Indeed there was evidence of past leakage around it, but apparently this was not the source of the current leak.  I am not at all unhappy, tho, to have replace the fixed port with an opening one - it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time, and for which I was only looking for an excuse.  But it was not the problem.

In an effort to stop the leak first and diagnose later, I applied tape to everything that looked the slightest bit sketchy on deck in the vicinity of the leak (the replaced port is just in the frame at the top center).

Hallelujah!  The last storm (20-30 kt winds and heavy rain) did not produce a drop inside.  So, one of those pieces of tape is covering the leak.  Which one?

I didn't try to find out.  Instead, I masked off each area and applied several coats of varnish to seal the trim to the deck.

Now we'll see.

It is supposed to rain tonite (of course).


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blogger Blog

I had a real treat yesterday.

In this world, this life, connections with other people are some of the most important things we have... maybe the most important.  And yesterday, one of those connections got a lot stronger.

It seems that Rick and Ruth Bailey, of s/v Cay of Sea and the Middle Bay Sailing blog had made a cross-country drive to deliver a 7 foot antique clock to their son on Whidbey Island.  Rick contacted me, and we arranged to meet for lunch at Dad's in Anacortes.

What wonderful folks they are!  As you would undoubtedly guess, the conversation ranged over boat topics...  lots of boat topics.  And if you knew the correct pronunciation of Cay:
 A cay (/ˈkiː/ or /ˈkeɪ/), also spelled caye or key, is a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef.
then you would not be surprised to know that music was covered too.  Tho I must confess that the right brain simulator I run in my left brain (my actual right brain is a shriveled up raisin) doesn't hold a candle to either of these folks, who both have huge glowing right brains, Rick in music and Ruth in art (Rick often features Ruth's work on Middle Bay Sailing).  I knew that I wasn't going to attempt to play when Rick picked up my guitar and ran thru the opening riff from 'Blackbird', flawlessly.  Oh my.

It was a wonderful visit.  And firming up these tenuous connections we have with each other over the Internet with actual personal contact is too a wonderful thing.  I only wish that it was possible to do more of it.

Thanks for visiting Rick & Ruth!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Time Passes

In 1980 when our kids were just toddlers, I took a picture of this intriguing tree in Washington Park in Anacortes.  It was the occasion of our second trip to the San Juan Islands, and our very first ever boat charter (a Newport 28).


We had occasion to be at Washington Park again this fall, and I was surprised to see that the tree was still there.  But sadly, the intervening 34 years have not been kind to it - tho still in place, it is sagging downward, and it has died.


One other thing is apparent in these two pictures...  the technology of photography has changed dramatically over those years.  The first picture was taken as a 35 mm Kodachrome slide.  The second was a snapshot taken on my iPhone.  Clearly 35 mm format slide film with a 250 mm zoom lens beats the pants off of an iPhone, digitally zoomed out to the max.  Nevertheless, I'll probably never go back to toting around a big heavy camera bag full of expensive lenses.  The convenience of having the camera in my pocket wherever I go is for me an overwhelming advantage.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Micro-forecast iPhone App

An area like Puget Sound and the San Juans has many micro-climates. No "one size fits all" forecast is going to do a decent job. What you need is a micro forecast - one suited to just where you are.

It's not free, but for less than the cost of that last latte you bought, you can have it!  The app is called "Dark Sky" - search for it on your app store.

So you can see what it does, here's a look at some of the screens.  First, the current forecast for your location, for the next 60 minutes:

Next hour
Swiping to the next screen (see the dots at the bottom?) gives you a little longer range look:

Next day
One more swipe gives you a look at the next seven days.  Here I've touched Saturday and so it is being shown in greater detail:

Next week
Finally, for a graphic view, you get a look at the radar loop. 

This view is shrinkable to show the whole world, or you can zoom in to show your location in great detail.  In the zoomed-out view, the time scale changes to days instead of hours, and you will get a couple of days to the future of the 'now' point - that is, a predicted radar loop.  It can also show a loop on temperature, but I find that less interesting.

Now tell me that you wouldn't find this handy on board!

Monday, October 13, 2014


I moved aboard at the end of 1996.  It was the end of the year, so a) I didn't spend much time outside, and b) neither did anyone else...  It was cold, after all.  But as the seasons progressed and the weather warmed, the sounds of spring filled the marina: sanders.  Whenever it wasn't raining, the air was filled with sound of sanders, near and far.  Multiple sanders - on G Dock, F Dock, and even as far away as the nether reaches of E Dock.  People were cleaning up their teak for the annual varnish job.

But times have changed.  It is no longer profitable to mine the dumpsters for scraps of teak - there are none.  And the sound of sanders is gone from the marina.

Now instead what you hear is the whine of the boat detailers' buffers.  Boats no longer have teak on them - it's just too expensive and too hard to keep looking good.  Now they are all white fiberglass, frequently buffed by that detailer's wool pad.

Progress, I guess.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lawn Mower Pesto

Have you ever planted chives in a small bed next to your yard?  If you have, you know that they spread and spread.  How about mint?  Even more spreading.

We have.  And when we mow the grass, some of that chive and mint gets chopped up.  It smells wonderful!

Tho this happens every time we cut the grass, Jane and I were discussing the aroma for perhaps the first time last nite after mowing the grass.  In one of those "Aha!" moments, Jane suggested that since it smelled so good, I should try making a pesto out of chives and mint.

Wow!  We had it mixed onto pasta last night.  It was fresh, warm and wonderful!  I'm sure it would be good on salmon, lamb, or just smeared on bruschetta. 

Here's how I made it:
  • Grab a handful of chives and pull out the browning ones so that you have all green.
  • Strip the leaves off a few mint plant tops - if the soft stems at the top come off too, that's OK.
  • Pack these into your Cuisinart along with 3-4 large peeled garlic cloves.
  • Pulse until chopped fine.
  • Pulse while adding just enough olive oil to stick things together.

Sorry I don't have an exact recipe.  The first attempt smelled a little too "onion-y", so I just added a little more mint.

If we had not planted these two things right next to each other, the idea would never have occurred to us.  But after-dinner research disclosed that we were not the first to discover this wonderful taste combination.  Google "chives mint" and you'll see that even Martha Stewart beat us to it.  You might even get some more exact recipes...

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Mutiny of the Radar Officer

I've talked about our Radar setup aboard Eolian before.  And that setup worked out very well for us...  as long as it was a rare occasion that required Radar.  Down in Puget Sound, it was indeed a rare occasion.

But not so rare up here north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, when crossing Rosario Strait.  In fact, I think we may have put more hours on the Radar set this summer than in all our previous time on Eolian.

A consequence fell from this.  Jane, our Radar Officer, mutinied.

She said that she didn't like having to stay below and shout up to me the "hits" on the screen, especially when the engine was running, making the communication essentially one-way (it being difficult for me to make myself heard by Jane sitting down below, almost directly above the engine).

So, I did what any self-respecting Captain would do having received permission to spend money:  Notwithstanding all those things I said before, I scurried off to craigslist and found a used Furuno Radar with an LCD screen that is water resistant and daylite readable, and can therefore be mounted in the cockpit next to the GPS.  No Radar Officer required.

For sale - any takers?

Yesterday and today I spent removing the old Radar. A trip up the mizzen was required to disconnect the interconnect cable and remove the radome (boy that sucker is heavy!). Next, I tied a string to the end of the cable and lowered it thru the mizzen to the cockpit.

Then the big job started - unthreading the interconnect cable from the path the original installer had used between the base of the mizzen mast and the display unit that used to hang overhead in the navigator's station.  It would have been much easier if I had cut the cable, but I didn't want to do that because the interconnect cables are very expensive, and the lack of a cable would seriously impair the old unit's resalability.

Then the next day was spent on:
  • Ascend the mizzen mast again, this time with electric drill in hand so that I could drill new mounting holes in the mounting plate on the mast.  Layout the new holes that were needed, since neither of the two sets on the mount matched up.
  • Drill those holes, starting with a 1/8" drill bit and ending with a 7/16" bit.
  • Hoist the new radome up and bolt it in place.  Working up the mast is scary...  you want to always have everything tied off, either to you or to the mast, because gravity is such a bitch.  So this was a very scary action, because the radome is a curvy beast, leaving only a bolt thru one of the mounting holes to use as the hoist point.  This meant that I had to disconnect the only thing securing the radome up there in order to mount it.  Until I got the first bolt in place, it was just my hands fending off the depridations of gravity.  Every motion was thought out ahead of time, and somehow every task had to be done with just one hand, the other being designated as the "keep the radome from falling" hand.
  • Thread the new interconnect cable (already attached to the radome) down the mizzen mast, using the pull string I left in place.
So this is where things stand at the moment:

It works!
There it sits, just as pretty as can be, right next to the GPS (or where the GPS would be, if it were mounted).

Still to do for a complete installation:
  • Permanently mount the new display on the coaming next to the GPS
  • Drill a hole thru the coaming for the cables
I have a stainless steel "desk grommet" on order for the cable penetration of the coaming - you've seen these on newer office furniture, intended for computer cables.  Hopefully this will give a finished appearance when the displays are mounted and when they are not.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On The Opening Of Ports

One of Eolian's two Previous Owners outfitted her opening ports with curtains.  In order to hang them, he used an extruded aluminum curtain track that was available at the time - the same track, as a matter of fact, that the factory used to hang the shower curtains in the heads.  But on two of the aft cabin ports, the installed track interfered with an overhead beam, preventing the complete opening of the ports.  (These are not the original curtains; they are the curtains that Jane made back in 1989, one of her "make the boat mine" projects.)

Original setup only opens part way
Unfortunately, the only fittings available at the time for attaching the curtain extrusions were these (now rusty) steel spring clips, which he installed by wiring them to the port hinges.

Rusty steel attachment clip, wired on
While making a recent Sailrite order (I must do a post on this wonderful company sometime soon!), I found that they carried three forms of the curtain track:
  • one like the ones used on Eolian,
  • one designed for mounting to a vertical surface,
  • and one designed for mounting to a horizontal surface.
It was the last one of these that caught my eye.  With a little modification, a piece of this track could be used to mount the curtain track to the port in a much lower position...  that would allow the ports to open quite a bit further!  So I included a piece of this track in that order.

A little work with a hacksaw cut two pieces of tracks to length, and then removed the mounting flange from their ends so that they could be mounted to the port lens:

Hacksaw hack
Then I drilled holes in the track flange and matching holes in the port lens.  Using a couple of 3/4" 6-32 SS screws and nylock nuts, I attached the track to the under side of the top flange of the port lens:

Better than a wired-on rusty steel clip
The port now opens almost completely!

Open wide!
Look Ma!  No wires!
And yes, it looks a lot better.  Eolian has six more ports for which this treatment should be done, tho none of them have overhead interferences... doing the work would only serve to improve the professionalism of the interior finish.  So, yeah, that means that I will do them, but not as a high priority task.  There will be another piece of track in the next Sailrite order.
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