Monday, May 25, 2015

Experiment Continued

On Thursday, 5/21/2015, I pulled up the NeverWet test coupon that had been submerged since 12/14/2014, approximately 5 months. 

Upon retrieval, there was no longer any visible air film on the coated side of the coupon - the silvery appearance was gone.  Nevertheless, there was a marked difference between the treated side and the control.  The NeverWet had retarded marine growth, if not prevented it:

As retrieved
Although both sides were covered with marine slime, the treated side had only one spot where something more complex than slime had attached (near the bottom).  I decided to see how firmly things were adhering, so I lightly sprayed with a fine spray from a hose.  Almost everything came off of the treated side.

After light water spray
And then, since it looked so good, I returned it to the water, just to see what would happen.  The air film returned:

Air film has returned
The original intent of the experiment was to see if NeverWet could serve as a bottom paint replacement, either for the hull proper, or for the speedo transducers.  I can conclude that, without periodic renewal of the air film by exposure to air, the film will slowly disappear.  And once it is gone, the NeverWet's ability to prevent marine growth is compromised. So, for boats which are continuously in the water, NeverWet cannot serve as a bottom paint.  For boats that are periodically exposed to air however (dinghies perhaps?), it should work.  And I still wonder if the air film will reduce skin drag, but sadly I have no way to test that.

So, tho the original experimental premise was proven false, a secondary experiment continues.  After all, most real experimental discoveries do not come following a cry of "Eureka!", but rather accompanied by, "Hmmm, that's odd..."


Friday, May 22, 2015

Espresso Aboard Eolian

Recently, Livia aboard s/v Estellita posted about the way they make espressos.  As Pacific Northwesterners, this immediately became an obvious trend to us.

Aboard Eolian, espressos are produced every single morning, as they have been since 1997, by this Barista espresso machine that our kids gave us:

USCG required safety equipment

Some might say that this is an extravagance, but Jane assures me that it is not, and besides that it is USCG required safety equipment. 

Actually, I can vouch for that. The 16 amp-hours we invest every morning in espressos ensures crew happiness and alertness. And that is never a bad thing. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Memory Test

Calm first nite of the year, at anchor in Blind Bay

Operating any boat requires that you have a good memory.  Just think about all the things and procedures that you have to keep in mind just to get off the dock.  The bigger the boat, the more systems.  The more systems, the more that needs to be kept in mind.

So here's a partial list from Eolian's "ready for sea" list:
  • Forward head items stowed or put in sink
  • Pictures laid flat in safe locations
  • Refrigerator door pinned
  • Galley counter cleared of loose items
  • Wine glass rack closed
  • Aft head items stowed or put in sink
  • [...]
 And for the first time off the dock for the year, those lists held in memory might be a little fuzzy.  And they are longer... because the boat is still in "winter configuration".

When we first got Eolian we had an actual written checklist that we used when getting ready to leave the dock.  And we used it religiously for a long time, years in fact.  But after more than a decade moored in the same place, the list became, well, a hassle.  We remembered everything, right?

Fast forward to the first time off the dock in the first spring in Cap Sante marina.  We went thru the normal "first time off the dock" list that starts with:
  • Take off the winter fenders and take them up the dock to the Suburban
  • Take off the winter-doubled docklines
  • Check the water tanks for water sufficient for the planned trip (Eolian holds 300 gallons - trips less than a couple of weeks don't require full tanks)
  • Check the fuel tanks (as above)
  • [...]
 And then we started the engine, checked for water discharge, discussed what strategy to use when backing out of the slip given the current wind, checked for traffic in the waterway, and removed all but the bow and stern lines.  I released the stern line, got aboard and put the transmission in reverse.  At the same time Jane released the bow line and also climbed aboard.

I have learned that the best strategy to use when backing out of the slip is to advance the throttle "with authority" (as Art of Phoenix Rising used to say) - it minimizes the prop walk - and then put the transmission in neutral.  All went as planned.  For about a half a second.  And then the bow swung wildly to starboard, heading for the other boat that shares our slip.  As soon as this happened, I switched the transmission to forward and cranked the wheel to stop the boat's movement.  Thankfully, there was no contact with anything.

Then a brief burst in reverse to correct for my panicked over-correction.   Another half second of reflection brought home the conclusion:  we still had a dockline on somewhere.  And at that same moment, Jane spotted the offending line - led from the starboard bow.

With that line removed the rest of our undocking was uneventful, albeit drenched with adrenaline.  

What happened?

Here's the deconstruction of the event.  In all the years we were at Shilshole, our slip opened to the south - the direction the prevailing winter storms come from.  Of course we had a line led from the boat to the end of the finger slip, but there was no way to run a line from the other side of the boat to anything.  But at Cap Sante, our slip opens to the north.  This means that we can have two lines running upwind from the bow to the dock - one to our finger pier and one to a cleat on the dock proper

Guess which line we missed.

Yeah, that one.

So we failed the memory test, both of us did.  Or I should say that we passed the memory test with flying colors, but memory alone was insufficient.  An alert, conscious, complete final check would have revealed that we had left a line on, a line that we had never used in any previous year.  So, now there is a final item on the checklist, right before "release the docklines and engage the transmission":
  • Be present in this moment, not thinking about 30 seconds down the line.  Make a final, calm, complete check of everything, uncolored by the excitement of getting off the dock.
Will we remember this new item?  And not let it become so routine that we are just going thru the motions?

I hope so.

Years ago when I was a kid, I used to read Flying magazine. I particularly enjoyed a long-running series of articles entitled "I Learned About Flying From That." Each article was written by a pilot, who humbly admitted to having made a mistake, and then having lived, told about it in the hopes that others would not have to make the same mistake. I thought then that it was a good format, and I still think that now. This series of postings is my attempt to recreate that article series with a new subject and new technology.

(If you would like to help others to learn from your mistakes, please send your article to: WindborneInPugetSound at gmail dot com)


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Keepin' On Keepin' On

Don't have much to say this week - just keepin' on...

Gelcoat repairs continue.  Apply new layer, sand it back being careful not to sand thru adjacent gelcoat.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

At low tide I dove on the prop to change the zinc, thinking the water would be a little warmer.  It was...  51°F.  The prop always looks so wonderful with that great big shiny new zinc on there.

Amazingly, there were NO barnacles on the prop.  Yes, I know it has only been a year since our last haulout, but I nevertheless expected to find the troublesome creatures setting up housekeeping.  And none on the knotmeter spinners either.  In all, the hull looked awfully good - as far as I could see.  One of the problems with diving at low tide is that the water is generally very cloudy - cloudy with algae, I guess.  It's green anyway.  Perhaps it is because Cap Sante is hydrological cul de sac, not a flow-thru marina like Shilshole.

Anyway, if the weather continues to be spring-like, it is likely we will be off the dock later this week for the first time in 2015.

And after all, there is no reason why the gelcoat repairs can't be done while at anchor...

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