Saturday, November 21, 2015

Past Denial

It's 10 AM and there is still frost on the dock... there's no getting past it.  Winter's coming.  I find in the morning that the heat pump runs nearly continuously, extracting heat from the water Eolian floats in to replace that which is leaking away from her exposed exterior surfaces, radiating off into space on these cold, clear nites.

Snow can't be far behind, and in fact would be welcome because the clouds would block the pitiless cold of space.


Monday, November 16, 2015


We recently returned from a trip to the UK.  Like all times away from home for me, that trip took me out of myself a little, and gave me new perspective.  One of the benefits of travel, I guess.

Parallel history...  what was happening somewhere in the US when...

First of all, 1779 is a common late year that you'd encounter in the UK. Here, this is Iron Bridge - the first bridge to be made of cast iron in the world. Industry sufficiently advanced to create the huge castings this thing required shows just how far things had progressed in the UK.  While the bridge was being built, the Revolutionary War was raging on the US east coast.  And it had been only 3 years since the first western building of any kind had been raised at San Francisco.  It would be 13 years in the future when George Vancouver would bring HMS Discovery into Puget Sound for the first time, making it known to the western world.

But as I said, the 18th century is late times in the UK.  Let's step back a little further, 240 years further back.

Ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, York
In 1539, St. Mary's Abbey in York was destroyed by King Henry VIII (it had been built some 300 years earlier...).  This was only 47 years after Christopher Columbus had chartered three boats from Queen Isabella (obligatory sailing reference, check!) and come ashore for the first time in the West Indies, revealing the existence of the New World.  On the US east coast, west coast, and Puget Sound, First Nations peoples had yet to see westerners.  Longhouses were the architectural pinnacle in North America.

OK, let's step back another couple centuries, to 1312, when one William Binnoch snuck some warriors into Linlithgow castle in a hay wagon to take it for Robert the Bruce (see the movie Braveheart for a visual portrayal of the era, tho not this incident).  Why do I bring this up?  Because Binnoch was a forbear of mine on my mother's side.  For his efforts, Robert the Bruce awarded Binnoch 1000 acres near Linlithgow, at Ecclesmachan.

Ecclesmachan - part of the Binnoch grant
What else was happening in the world then?  The New World was not even Terra Incognita - its existence was not even suspected.  Marco Polo was eleven years from his death and Kublai Khan reigned in the far east.  Saint Thomas Aquinas died some 39 years earlier.

OK, now a bigger step - back to AD 50 when the Romans did their first construction at Bath, site of a natural hot spring in southwestern England.  The Roman Baths are a World Heritage site and are very well managed.

Are those two Roman ladies?
We are now two millenia into the past; the Romans rule the Known World, Christ recently died, and a Roman slave named Spartacus escaped with seventy-seven other prisoners and seized control of nearby Mount Vesuvius.

And finally, this:

The first construction at Stonehenge proper was in about 3000 BC, when a circular ditch about 100 yards in diameter was constructed.  About 500 years later the first of the big stones were raised.  But Stonehenge is not the first prehistoric structure on the Salisbury plain.  Other structures have been dated as early as 3800 BC, and new discoveries in Durington Walls (a couple of miles from Stonehenge) could push this back to 4500 BC - we are approaching the end of the last Ice Age here.

In this period, the city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia. World population in the course of the millennium doubled, from approximately 7 to 14 million people.  Ötzi the Iceman died near the present-day border between Austria and Italy, and silver was discovered.

This trip made me dizzy - I feel as tho I am standing on the edge of a very high cliff, looking down into the past.  And in Great Britain, that view goes a long, long way down.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Tale Of Two Tails.

A quick revisitation of this issue, with an illustration.  And then I promise I will shut up about it.

Consider the forward edge of the aft bimini roof panel.  Because I am lazy, I originally made the tail as a hang down tail.  That is, the tail was a long skinny rectangle - easy to cut, and minimal fabric usage.  But because it had no curvature, it did not match the contour of the front edge of the panel.  Consequently, after installation it had a scalloped appearance and made a loose fit to the center panel:

Hang down tail.  Bow is to the left, and new panel is on the right
What is worse, with Eolian moored facing into the weather, when it rained (and oh, does it rain here in the PNW), the wind blew the rain under the edge of the tail and into the cockpit.  In fact the tail acted as a funnel, actually scooping in rain.

Tuck back tail - doesn't that look better?
So I picked all the seams and took apart the front edge of the panel.  And I cut fabric for a new tail, this time a tuck back tail - contoured to match the forward edge of the panel.  The result is gratifying - look how tightly it meets up with the center panel!  The built-in curvature makes the edge of the tail actually press down on the center panel - wind-blown rain is excluded (tested less than an hour after reinstallation... this is the PNW after all).

So far, I cannot think of a situation where I would use a hang down tail.

Previous post in this series


Monday, November 2, 2015

Living In Two Places - How To Do It

The Green Bag
From 1997 until 2013 we kept Eolian at the Shilshole Bay marina in Seattle.  During this time she served as our Seattle home because I worked in Seattle.  That meant that the majority of our time was spent onboard, with brief weekend sprints to our log cabin on Camano Island.  Now that I am retired, our time is more evenly split between Eolian (now in Anacortes) and Camano Island.

So, for the last 18 years we have been living in two places.  How does that work?  How do we do it?

First, it takes a lot of organization.  Those of you who know me know that organization is not one of my strong suits, but thankfully, it is Jane's raison d'être.  So what follows here is the system that we have developed to make this work.  Tho in our case it applies to a house and a boat, I imagine it would apply equally as well to the case of two houses (for example, a primary home and a vacation home).

The System

The more self-sufficient you can make each location, the less you will have to shlepp back and forth.  There are limits of course.

In no particular order:
  • Pay your bills in one place; keep all your records in one place.  If you have things in both places, you'll never be sure whether or not you've paid that credit card bill.
  • Have a marshalling location in both places.  That is, a place where things can be collected which need to go to the other location - put things here when you think of them.  This way it is not a giant fire drill when getting ready to leave - things can be accumulated over time.  And then when it is time to pack up, you can be almost certain that nothing has been forgotten.
  • Have a solid, sturdy laundry bag.  It will get dragged back and forth full of dirty clothes going one way and clean clothes going the other.
  • You will need a set of commonly used tools in both locations.  A boat should be well-equipped with tools in any case, in order to be able to handle breakdowns at sea. For seldom-used specialty tools, see The Green Bag.
  • The Green Bag.  The Green Bag always goes with us.  It is a marshalling location for small items.
  • By and large, it works best if grocery shopping is done independently at each location.  Keep a separate grocery list for each location.  This will help prevent, for example, having 3 bottles of ground cumin at each end.  Search for a smartphone app called "Our Groceries" - it allows multiple people to manage a shared grocery list (or multiple lists...).
  • There will always be some food items that need to be transferred, say a partial gallon of milk or some particularly delectable left-overs.  Bag these together and put them in the marshalling location just prior to departure. 
  • You will need a set of commonly used spices in both locations.  For seldom-used specialty spices, see The Green Bag.
  • Have no loose items.  Everything should be bagged if possible.  We make extensive use of those reusable grocery bags that are now so in vogue.
  • Have a formal shutdown process for each end.  Follow it religiously.  In the beginning, it may be necessary to write it down.  After 18 years, not so much.
  • Leave yourself sticky notes to cover unusual circumstances when you think of them - don't try to remember everything at the end when you're packing.  Put them in the marshalling location.
  • Make your cell phone your primary telephone number.
  • Have a single official location for important items that need to travel, such as a checkbook (in our case, this always lives in my briefcase).  Always, always return the item to its official location after use.  If you violate this rule, you will be certain to find yourself at the boat without your prescription sunglasses, for example.
  • Computers are cheap enough now that you can have one at both ends.  But if you are not careful, you computer file systems will be like those two spice drawers...  There will certainly be a collection of directories that you would like to have be in sync on both machines.  Use a cloud service for these, or use a thumb drive to copy these directories back and forth (I use linux - rsync is my friend).
  • Reading material - I have only one word for you here: Kindle.
  • Cell phone chargers and cables are small and cheap - have an adequate number at both ends.
  • Outer gear - keep location specific clothing at each end.  Keep the foulies on the boat and the Carhart chore coat at the house.  If you wear a raincoat to the boat, be sure to put it in the boat marshalling location so that it will go home with you when you leave.
  • Hand projects like knitting should be handled as travelling projects - always prepared to go back and forth.  That is, each should have its own bag and live in it.
So that's how we do it.  Those of you out there who are doing the same thing  have additional suggestions I'm sure...
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