Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

May the peace and quiet joy of Christmas be with you and your loved ones. Merry Christmas from the crew of Eolian!


Monday, December 19, 2016


Boats have a lot of systems - way more than your average suburban house. For example, Eolian has four electrical systems...
  • 110V shore power
  • 110V inverter power
  • 110V generator power
  • 12V power
But this isn't a post about electrical systems... well not exactly.  Where I was going is that living on a boat has a higher-than-average need for inventiveness, for MacGyver-ing if you will.  Because of all those systems.  And because of the cost of marine mechanics, electricians, etc.

As a consequence, MacGyver-ing is a highly appreciated skill in the marine world, whether or not it is recognized aloud.  The ability to fix something in impromptu fashion using the materials at hand is a trait that has saved many mariners.

With that in mind, let me introduce you to my 5 year old granddaughter, Eliza.

Eliza noticed that one of the Christmas decorations in her home, an electric candle, was "broken".  So, she studied on it, and picking it up discovered that when held in her hand, the light came on!  (It turns out there is a photocell concealed in the body of the candle that turns it off in daylight.)

So, she fixed it, in a way that is imminently logical, using materials at hand... a toilet paper tube:

Broken...                            And Fixed

Tho you can't see it in the picture, she even decorated the toilet paper tube in keeping with the season.  She drew no attention to her feat, which was discovered by her mother later.  She was just doing her part to keep the household running.

This girl clearly has a boat of her own in her future!


Monday, December 5, 2016

Storm Window Redux

Open? This time of year??
Does it seem strange that I would have the ports open when it is 40° outside?

Well, they're not really open.  The storm windows are installed, and so with the ports open, the storm windows still provide a seal against the cold outside.

And why do I have them open?  Well, because it was raining when I installed them (Huh.  Imagine that.), and despite my carefully wiping off the outside surfaces of the port lenses, some moisture remained trapped between the port lenses and the storm windows (you might just be able to see it in the picture).  With the dehumidifier running (it's always running this time of year...) and the ports open, I am giving that moisture a chance to evaporate.

I should have made these years ago. 


Monday, November 28, 2016

Storm windows? On a boat??

We use Eolian all winter long (at the dock anyway), therefore we heat her all winter long.  On houses, storm windows are used to provide an extra layer of insulation against the winter cold and weather.  If you have ports like these:

Do you have ports like this? can easily make and fit storm windows for them too!  I  don't take credit for this idea - it came from Drew, 6 years ago.  

But in any case, it couldn't be simpler.  First you need to remove the screens from your ports (we don't have ours installed - no bugs to speak of in the PNW... :^) ).   It is easy to do this.  The rubber gasket that traps the screens in place is not glued in - it is just wedged into a slot on the port frame:

Just pull it out
You just need to pull it out.  If you haven't ever had yours off, they may be glued in there with algae and other growth tho.  With the gasket off, simply lift the screen out of its recess.

Of course, you'll need the actual storm windows.  For these you'll want some kind of thin plastic - less than 1/8" (the thickness of the screens).  I made mine out of the glazing from a couple of old poster frames that were destined for the recycle bin.  I just traced the outline of the screen on the plastic sheet and then cut them out on my bandsaw.  I suppose you could use a sabre saw, or even a hack saw (tho the corners would be tedious).  And you might even want to smooth out the edges with a bench grinder and/or a file - I did this with mine.

And just slip them in where the screens were

And then you just drop them into the recess that the screen was in, and reinstall the rubber gasket.  (If you look closely, you'll notice that there is a joint on the gasket - this should go to the top.)  Be sure to get the gasket flange firmly pushed into the slot all the way around, otherwise the window won't close - you could break it if you try.

Easy peasy.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Blogging to meet people

Those of you who have been blogging for a while (we'll hit 1000 posts sometime in 2017) know that a blog is a wonderful way to meet folks.

On a rare occasion, the meeting comes not in the bloggosphere, but in person - these are most special!

And this weekend, it happened again.  We met Jonathan and Sarah, the brand new owners of s/v Odyssey, a beautifully maintained and fitted out Baba 35...  that was coincidentally for sale right here in the Cap Sante marina.  Jonathan & Sarah are from Oregon, and have both apparently been readers of this blog for some time, so when they found themselves headed to Anacortes, they contacted us and arranged a meeting...  a meeting that lasted 4 hours aboard both Eolian and Odyssey, included wine and champagne (!) and a wonderful from-scratch carrot cake that Sarah had baked aboard.  And it turns out that we have way more in common than we could possibly cover in that short time, so I'm sure that this was only the first of many cozy times aboard one or the other boat.  Because Odyssey is going to stay in Anacortes to serve as their platform to explore the San Juans and the Inside Passage....

It turns out that Jonathan is also a blogger (I didn't know!) - you'll want to read the story of the journey that took them to Anacortes and Odyssey.  There's always a story about how the boat picks you...

So the moral of this blog post is:  Blog!  Write!   Look for opportunities to meet your fellow bloggers... don't be shy!   Something wonderful could happen...


Friday, November 18, 2016

Anacortes Haulout?

We will need to do a haulout for bottom paint this spring, and I was wondering if any of the readers would have a recommendation for a place here in Anacortes?  We were thinking of Marine Servicenter...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Random Propeller Thoughts

Eolian's low aspect ratio propeller

I've been thinking about propellers lately.  A lot.

No, I can't explain that.  Perhaps it is a residue of our recent election.  Or something.


Now, I am not a trained Naval Architect.  But still, I have thoughts which seem coherent (to me at least, but then the judge may be biased), some brought on by casual observation of a rooster tail following a heavy cruiser.  Even riding on a ferry you can see evidence of a jet of water that eventually surfaces astern.

To me, the whole idea of thinking of a propeller as a water screw is, well, screwed.

Imagine that the that theoretical speed of a boat which would be determined only by the pitch of the prop and its RPM is called St.  In the common parlance, "slippage" - that condition when the boat is moving at less than St, is considered to be an inefficiency.

But imagine that a boat is moving thru the water at exactly St...  there is zero "slippage" - the prop is a perfect screw.  But then the only force on the prop is drag, as it completes its revolutions thru the water.  So how then is any force created* to move the boat forward?

How about this instead:  Newton's Third  Law:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Imagine now that the prop's mission in life is to throw as much water astern as it can...  in a sense the boat becomes a rocket, propelled by the water being thrown away aft.  This theory would have as a consequence that "slippage" is required for propulsion.  If the boat reaches St, from the boat's perspective NO water is being thrown aft... NO propulsion.  This also says that a boat will never reach St, because the closer it gets, the less propulsive force is available - a hydraulic version of Zeno's Paradox.

Given a fixed amount of horsepower applied to the shaft, the product of the amount of water discharged and its speed are fixed.  If you want more water discharged, then for a fixed amount of horsepower input, the discharge speed of the water must be decreased.  And vice versa.  So, if you want a high speed discharge jet (high St), you must compromise with less water in the jet.  Therefore, assuming the same Chevy V8 engine, installed in a high-speed racing hydrofoil, you'll need a comparatively small diameter prop with a HUGE pitch.  With that same engine in a tug, a large, slow-turning prop will give you humongous thrust, but with the compromise of a low top speed.  Variable pitch props do not solve the problem because they only allow their pitch to be changed, not their diameter.

What do you need for your boat?  I bet that you want the most speed you can get.  So:  the highest pitch prop that still provides sufficient thrust to get you somewhere near St for that pitch.  Still a guessing game, tho empirical formulae do exist.

*I said that at St there would be no thrust.  That is not (at least theoretically) true.  Since the beginning of flight, aircraft propeller blades have had an airfoil cross section.  That is, they are really rotating wings, not only generating thrust by virtue of their pitch, but also using the pressure differential the airfoil creates between the front of the prop blades and the rear: lift.  An aircraft propeller, even operating at (or above!) St still delivers thrust because of this.  It strikes me that there is a lot of room for hydrodynamic improvement in water propellers, specifically in improving their lift/drag ratios.  Aircraft wings and propellers (and sailboat keels!) long ago gave up the low aspect ratio shape that today's boat propellers still retain.  Continuing with that thought, boat propellers, it would seem to me, would be well served if they moved toward narrow high aspect ratio blades with a cross sectional shape derived from hydrofoils.  Another trade-off:  enough "meat" will need to be retained in those thin blades to handle the thrust forces...


Monday, October 24, 2016


Shilshole was a "local" marina.  Most of the boats there were actually from Seattle.

Cap Sante is a horse of a different color...  many of the boats here are NOT from Anacortes, or even Seattle.  I took a tour of our dock this morning, and this is what I found:

Port of CallCount
Other Western Washington6
British Columbia1
New York1

Now, these are ports of call, which don't always reflect the owners' residences.  But it is the data I have. 

Kind of surprising... Seattle and Western Washington outnumber local (Anacortes) boats 21 to 13, considering that these folks must drive 70-130 miles from their homes to get to their boats.  But perhaps even more surprising is that the third largest category is California!  And we know for a fact that at least two of the California boat owners drive here - what a commute!  But any way you choose to count it, Cap Sante is a lot more geographically diverse than Shilshole was.

There is a consequence that falls from the long commute distances...  This time of the year the marina is virtually deserted.  Even the ubiquitous detailers have put their buffers away for the season.

I miss the camaraderie that we had at Shilshole, with their large live-aboard population, but there are benefits to our situation at Cap Sante:  Parking in the parking lot is easy, and there is always a dock cart waiting for us.  And as I am sure that I have mentioned before, Anacortes is a wonderful town.  All within walking distance of the marina:
  • Grocery stores (2!  One is directly across the street from the marina)
  • Hardware stores (2!  One is directly across the street from the marina)
  • West Marine store (two blocks from the marina)
  • NAPA store
  • Movie theater
  • Live theater
  • Bars and restaurants galore (Anthony's is right at the head of the dock!)
  • Post Office
  • Drivers license office
I am sure that I have left things off the list that others would be interested in... but the point is that Anacortes is a pretty complete little town, and that the marina is centrally located within it. 

So, tho we say goodbye to the "summer folk", in the fall, we continue to enjoy the marina and Anacortes all winter long!

Monday, October 17, 2016


The precursor

Modern Weather forecasting is simply amazing.  100 years ago, we would have had absolutely no warning.  Zero.  Yet in today's world, days ahead of time the forecasting models predicted that this amorphous blob of clouds (that happened to be a remnant of the western pacific typhoon, Songda), thousands of miles away, would morph into a tight little low with a central pressure of only 950-960 mb, and come very, very near to us.  Perhaps even directly over Seattle.

As the days wore on, the forecast sharpened and the storm track became better known ( a phenomenon well-known to our East Coast brethren and sisteren). 

The reality

In the final day or so, the storm tightened up - so much so that a difference of 25 miles in its track would make the difference between catastrophic hurricane force winds pummeling the Salish Sea, and only damaging winds.

As it turned out we got those 25 miles; we were spared.  But now some in the news media are having a field day criticizing the predictions (which, by the way,  they were happy to use to produce panic-inducing headlines...  and sales).  Given the difficulty of predicting the path and strength of this storm, and the disastrous consequences of not giving adequate warning, I for one was happy to be warned.  Warned enough to add extra docklines and fenders and to make sure that everything loose was tied down.

The reality was bad enough:

New record low measured aboard Eolian: 984 mb

New record wind speed measured aboard Eolian: 47 kt

We were warned that a bullet was heading our way, and as it turned out, we dodged it.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Damn Fish

We had visitors coming to the boat on Sunday.  So of course our galley sink stopped up almost entirely on Saturday.  Yeah, I tried the plunger, but if anything it made things worse.  Since we had had experience with fish swimming up our plumbing before, I suspected that this might be the case again...

So yesterday morning I tackled it - we can't go on washing dishes in the forward head sink forever...

My first thought was that the easiest approach would be to disconnect the hose from the sink plumbing under the sink.  This would allow me to isolate the problem to either the hose or the nearly inaccessible thru hull/seacock, or to the drain plumbing under the sink, where the diameter goes from 1-1/2" to 1" hose.  (One of my mechanic's rules is to always try the easiest or cheapest solution first.)

Well.  Since we all know that Murphy was a marine architect, you can guess that the "easy" approach was not so easy after all.  In fact, because of an intervening shelf that the plumbing passed thru, I destroyed almost everything in the plumber's nightmare above in getting the hose off. 

And no, the problem was not there.

Well, the hose was off, so I got out our sewer snake (don't all boats have a sewer snake?).  It easily ran down the hose all the way to the elbow on the thru hull. 

No joy.

Thankfully, Sebo's Hardware is just two blocks from the head of the dock, so I think you can imagine me, squatted down in the plumbing section, piecing together various fittings on the floor to try to make up a similar nightmare.  Sebo's is a very complete hardware - I was able to remake the plumbing and even replace the 2" sink strainer for only $28.

So where are we?

The sink plumbing is back together, shiny and new.  Sadly, it still doesn't drain. 

For now at least, we have decided to continue the use of the fwd head sink as the wash basin.  We have a haul-out scheduled for this spring - tackling the thru hull from the outside with a plunger (or worse, disassembling it) would be a lot easier with the boat on the hard than trying to use a plunger on it from the outside now, wearing a wet suit.

And who knows - maybe it will heal.  if it is a fish that is in there, maybe he leave on his own.  Or decompose.


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Opposite Perspective

We have anchored in Blind Bay and Indian Cove on Shaw Island countless times.  But other than the obligatory trips to the Shaw Island General Store for ice cream, we have never been on Shaw Island.

There was one exception however, when we took a hike from Blind Bay over to the campground at Indian Cove.  Now Shaw Island is not big - the hike is almost exactly 2 miles long.  When we did that hike, we promised ourselves that we'd repeat it some day, with backpacking gear and spend the nite at the campground.

We took the occasion of our 45th wedding anniversary to do just that last Thursday...

Backpacking on the ferry

When hiking on Shaw Island, you are likely to run into some of the residents...  residents who will not gracefully surrender right of way to you or car traffic.

On the way, you will pass this charming little hut, where someone is selling locally gathered seeds.  On the honor system, of course.

The campground is lovely.  There are 10 sites, most of which are on the edge of a 20 foot high bluff directly above the beach.  All are supplied with picnic tables and a fire ring (firewood is available).  Water spigots are not far.

And then there is the beach at Indian Cove, one of the nicest beaches in the Islands.

The view begs you to just sit and contemplate. 
So we had the opportunity to see the anchorages we are so familiar with, but from the opposite perspective - from land.

Finally, being the gadget nerd that I am, this trip provided the opportunity to try out some neat things that I had received from my son and daughter-in-law as presents...

Backpacker's beer - No one wants to carry the weight of a six-pack when backpacking.  But most of that weight is water.  What if you removed that water?  Yeah, that's the ticket!  It's real beer, with a real head, and it is as cold as your water source.  You won't believe how good it tastes!

Heating water for coffee... and charging my phone!

Unlike almost all of our backpacking campsites, This one on Shaw Island has cell service.  But the battery in my ageing iPhone 5s is failing and needs frequent transfusions of electrons to stay alive.  Imagine my delight then, at receiving this backpacker's pot!  Yes, it does indeed have a wire attached to it...  You see, the base of the pot is a thermoelectric generator, and creates electricity as long as there is enough temperature difference between the bottom of the pot and its contents.


Monday, September 26, 2016

A Plea For Help

Eolian is a ketch.  And her mizzen boom extends out considerably beyond the stern rail.  As you might expect, this makes putting the sail cover on the mizzen rather a difficult proposition.

For 19 years I have been standing on the stern bulwark, draping my right arm over the boom and inching my way out until my body is at nearly a 45° angle.  Then, using only my left hand, I have to make up the common sense fasteners at the end of the sail cover.  Not exactly the safest thing I could do.

And now, arthritis in my right shoulder is making that a painful activity as well, as you might imagine.  Combine this with the fact that besides me, the mizzen sail cover is also old and rapidly failing (will it survive the storms of winter?  Who knows?), and well it is obvious that something needs to be done.

It's new sail cover time.

And in the intervening 30 (40?) years since that sail cover was made, a new idea has appeared:  the Stack-pack sail cover.  It really is a new idea, and like all new ideas, there are still some kinks to be worked out in the design, for instance where the cover wraps around the mast.  A walk around the marina will show you that there are multiple ways to create a stack-pack cover, and that standardization has yet to occur.

Flush with my recent success with creating new roof panels for our bimini and dodger, I am going to tackle making a stack-pack cover for our mizzen.  But before I start a project like this, I need to have the whole design in my head.  And I am not there yet.

For me, the critical part of the design is the attachment of the lazy jacks to the cover.  Should there be straps that they tie to?  I've seen several like that, including the custom one that Ullman Sails made for the Sun Deehr 56 across the dock from us.  Wouldn't the design be stronger if the straps somehow wrapped around or supported the battens?  How to actually do that?  Should the batten be at the highest point of the side of the cover? Or down the side a little like on the Ullman cover?  If I support the sail cover with webbing wrapped around the batten, won't it naturally try to be the highest point of the cover?  See, my concept of the stack-pack is that the lazy jacks, the battens and the webbing form a framework, and that the fabric is just a cover for the framework.

Sailrite, my go-to gurus for marine canvas, have a video up covering construction of a stack-pack, but it appears that it was their initial design that they documented in the video.  Their lazy jack attachment was made by burning holes in the fabric and tying the lazy jacks thru them around the batten.  That satisfies my desire to have the lazy jacks support the batten, but seems unnecessarily crude.  And there is nothing to keep the lazy jacks from creeping up along the batten until they are at the upper edge of the burned holes in the fabric, and then pulling on the fabric, making wrinkles.

So.  This is a plea for help. 

I can't start the project until I solve this dilemma.  If anyone of my readers has a stack-pack sail cover that addresses this, or better yet has constructed a sail cover that addresses this, I'd love to see pictures of how it was made, in particular how lazy jack attachment and batten support were done.


Monday, September 19, 2016


The great wheel of the seasons has turned.  The Earth is now at the 21:00 position in its orbit (yeah, I know it's arbitrary, but that's how I think of it.  Oh, and that the Earth orbits counterclockwise makes my internal vision even more incorrect.)  Day and nite are equal length; sunset and sunrise occur at 06:00 and 18:00 solar time.  Even at noon, the sun is perceptibly lower in the sky.  All the signs are there:  it is Fall.

And looking realistically at what is on our plate for the remaining few nice days of the year, we won't get Eolian off the dock again in 2016.  So, we have brought the winter fenders to the marina and are doubling up our docklines in preparation for the gales of winter, which are sure to come.  I didn't get to diving on the prop to put on a fresh zinc this last weekend because we had the pleasure of running into Grant and Laurie of s/v Shadowdance, old friends from Shilshole...  and let's be honest here...  I didn't really want to jump in the 51° water either.  So I still have that to do.

It was a great year tho, with week after week living at anchor in the San Juan Islands, some spectacular sails, and 50 crabs in the freezer.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Room in the Reefer


I am guilty as charged.

Yes, there has been an unconscionable gap in posting to this blog - it's just that not everything in our lives is related to boating, and a bunch of that stuff came up recently.  OK, enough of the Mea Culpa.

Eolian's refrigerator compartment is huge for a boat.  But because it is so tall, much of the space in it either goes to waste, or we spend a long time sorting thru piles of things in there with the door open, looking for something.

Something had to be done.

I decided to make a shelf that would add 50% to the horizontal storage space in there, and put some of that vertical space to use.  Because I am a professional scrounge, I have a good collection of teak scraps discarded by others, gleaned from the dumpsters.  I brought some of this, and a collection of tools to the boat:

Some of the tools

Making a mess of the dock
In a project like this, it is important to make dimensional decisions that will fit with what you plan to store in the reefer.  To that end, I think I may have disturbed some folks at Safeway by walking around with a tape measure, measuring beer boxes, soft drink cartons and other things.  It was kind of surprising to see the variability in carton sizes, even for canned drinks.

The trick in building this shelf was that it needs to be removable, yet it needs to stay in place with a load of food on it when the boat is in a seaway.  I was most worried about the shelf tipping over toward the door when on a starboard tack.  Here's how I dealt with that:
  • The left-hand support bracket has a foot that goes all the way to the door, about twice the length of the bracket.  With this extension, it would be very difficult indeed to tip the shelf on this side.
  • On the right-hand (aft) side, I made the last of the shelf boards extend behind the holding plate, preventing any movement on that side.
Finally, to lock things together when it is in place, I made rabbits in the top edges of the support brackets to accept a rabbit on the cleats on either side of the shelf.  When the shelf is installed, it cannot move toward or away from the door because of these interlocking notches.

Three pieces, with clever interlocking

Yes, the shelf slats seem to be sort of unevenly spaced from side to side.  This is because the left-hand side of the reefer is deeper than the right-hand side due to hull taper.

Sadly, in my first attempt at making the side brackets, I failed to take into account that the rear wall of the reefer matches the hull contour.  So I had to redo the brackets.  In fact, every board was custom cut and fitted because of the hull contour and because the hull is tapering in as you go aft (to the right in the picture).

But in the end I got it.  And we've added 50% to our reefer storage.

Et voilà!
Seems like a pretty small thing for a day and a half's work.  But there was a lot of thinking and trial fitting.  And that beer box is no longer full...


Monday, August 8, 2016

Bimini Canvas: Cost

In the "last" post (OK, now this one is the last post...) on the bimini canvas renewal, Kelvin asked what the final cost was.  I'm afraid I can't give that because I used some supplies from earlier projects.  But what I can do is to make an estimate on materials costs, based on the Sailrite catalog I have here on board (check the Sailrite website for current prices):

Item Quantity Unit Cost Extended Cost
Sunbrella, Erin Green, 46" wide 10 yd 16.95 169.50
DuraSkrim 10 yd 2.95   29.50
Binding tape, 3/4", Erin Green 80 ft 0.50   40.00
Zipper, #10, 48" 6 7.50   45.00
Zipper, #10, 60" 4 8.70   34.80
Zipper Pull, #10 10 1.70   17.00
Zipper Stop, Stainless 2 packs of 10 2.50     5.00
Common Sense fastener, male 50 0.60   30.00
Common Sense fastener, eyelet 17 0.195     3.32
Rivet 100 0.15   15.00
Seam Stick, 3/8" 1 8.95     8.95
Seam Stick, 1/4" 1 6.95     6.95
TOTAL $405.02

I also bought some tools that, tho they were used in this project, will be used again in future projects.  I don't know if these should be charged against this project or not (you decide), but you should definitely have these tools to do the work:

Item Cost
Rivet Setting Tool Kit 89.00
Common Sense Eyelet Hole Punch 69.50

I did not include the cost of the thread because I bought a large spool years ago and have been using it since.  You definitely want the Teflon Tenara thread or equivalent - it will outlast your boat.  Don't settle for polyester thread.

And finally, you need a heavy-duty sewing machine to handle this.  I heartily recommend the Sailrite LS-1 or LSZ-1 (zig zag - if you intend to sew sails).  They are expensive and worth it.  We got ours used for less than half the new cost.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is it about dark gel coat?

Cleaner/wax application half done on the sheer stripe

What is it about dark gelcoat colors?  They seem to oxidize so much more quickly than the white.  Red is the worst, for some reason.  Dark blue is a close follower.

Could it be that their color absorbs infrared (heat) radiation more readily, making them hotter?  (Chemical reactions double in rate, roughly, for every 10° rise in temperature.)

Could it be that the white pigment (almost assuredly titanium dioxide) does a better job of protecting the interior resin from UV than the pigments used for the dark colors?

Or could it simply be that oxidation on white doesn't show because it is, well, white?  Actually, having rubbed out Eolian's entire hull several times during our ownership, I'd have to say that the oxidized layer on the white is definitely thinner than that on the green.

So I kind of think there is something special going on with the dark colors.  It is that way for automotive paint too...  the dark colors, and especially red, fail first.


Monday, July 25, 2016

The Third Shoe Has Dropped

Finally, I have completed the last of the three cockpit bimini canvas pieces:  the center section.  This panel is zipped to each of the forward and aft roof panels, meaning that its size is completely dependent on the placement of those two panels; they had to be completed first.

But because the old center panel had to continue in service until the new one was fabricated, the forward and aft panels had to be properly located.  In other words, because I did this work in sections instead of all at once, the new roof duplicated the old completely...

Because the old center panel fit perfectly, rather than pattern the center panel with DuraSkrim I chose to simply roll out some Sunbrella and trace the outline of the old center onto it.  The size is not terribly critical; instead it is the zipper placement that is crucial.  That being the case, I did a lot of measuring and annotating on the old center panel:

Again, placement of the zippers is what controls the fit here.  So I measured outside-tooth to outside-tooth at perhaps a dozen stations along the old panel.  Then, when applying the zippers to the new panel, I duplicated the station locations and ensured that the zippers conformed to the measurements.

I have learned thru this project that zipper position in a lengthwise direction is also critical, especially when there are pairs spanning the length.  To make this work out properly, I followed these steps:
  • Locate the centers of both the old and new panels by folding in half, and mark them.
  • Install the old center panel, and transfer the center markings to the forward and aft panels.
  • Work on one edge at a time, I started with the aft edge.  Install one of the new zipper halves to the aft panel zipper.
  • Hold up the new panel, matching the center marks.
  • While continuing to hold the panel in place (you may need help here), make match marks on the new zipper half and the center panel an inch or three away from the center.
  • Remove the new zipper half from the aft panel.
  • Position the new zipper half on the new panel using SeamStick basting tape, matching up the match marks.  Note:  at this point, with no other reference it is not possible to exactly locate the zipper width-wise.  Instead, using another new zipper half on the opposite edge, simply ensure that zipper placement will allow both zippers to fall approximately equally on the fabric.  Exact spacing at the measurement stations will be established when the opposite zipper half is installed.
  • After sewing the first zipper half, take the panel out to the cockpit again and zip it up.  Install another new zipper half on the other aft panel zipper.
  • Pull the panel firm athwartship, and make match marks on the new zipper half.
  • Following the steps above, install the second zipper half.
At this point, zipper installation is half done, with the attachment to the aft panel complete.  Complete the forward zippers in a similar fashion, with these two modifications:
  • When establishing the position of the first zipper half, match up the centerline marks as before.  But this time, slide the panel a little port and starboard, watching for wrinkles to form and dissipate.  You are looking for that placement where there are no wrinkles - it may fall when the centerlines are not quite matched up.  Match mark the zipper half and the new panel.
  • When sticking the zippers in place with SeamStick, be very, very careful to get the outside-tooth to outside-tooth spacing at the measurement stations the same as on the old panel.


Previous post in this series


Monday, July 18, 2016

Mooring Repair

While we were involuntarily moored in Friday Harbor, this unusual work boat (the aluminum one with the I-beam supported above the foredeck, not the white one behind it) dropped anchor near us.  On board were a diver, a man, and woman: the crew.  And two hefty gentlemen who did not participate in operations except to look over the side.   With nowhere to go, we speculated what they were up to...

As we watched, a diver went down with a heavy line.  When the diver returned to the surface, the woman used a heavy windlass (not visible below the bulwarks) and routing the line over a block on the bow she hoisted up...  a concrete block some 6 or 7 feet square and perhaps 18 - 24" thick.  Trust me, this was HEAVY - the bow of the boat dipped a lot.  Obviously a quite substantial mooring anchor.

With the concrete hanging from the bow, the man attached a brand new pennant line, looking like at least 1-1/2", to the anchor block (with a chafe guard of course!).  He then manoeuvred to a good spot and she lowered the anchor to the bottom.  He then attached a (very) used buoy to the pennant, and they all went home.


The old mooring pennant had parted, releasing the buoy, which apparently fetched up on shore somewhere in Friday Harbor and was retrieved.  The action we witnessed was the reattachment of the buoy to the anchor on behalf of one or both of the observers, using a new pennant.

Conclusion #2?

That boat was ideally designed for mooring installation and maintenance.  We witnessed the maintenance part.  For a new installation, the new anchor would be placed in the bow, and then once transported to the desired location a hoist rolling along the I-beam would be used to retrieve it from the foredeck, roll it out forward above the water, and then lower it to the sea bottom.  Pretty clever design.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lexan vs. Plexiglass

If you are replacing fixed ports on your boat, you will be faced (or should be faced) with the choice between Lexan (a trade name for polycarbonate) and Plexiglass (a trade name for polymethylmethacrylate, aka acrylic).  Here are some features of each which might help you decide which to use:
  • Plexiglass is transparent to UV radiation.  That means that anything inside the boat will be subject to UV degradation if the sun shines thru the window.  That also means that UV radiation passes harmlessly thru Plexiglass without having any effect on it.
  • Lexan is opaque to UV radiation.  This means that it protects the boat interior from the ravages of UV.  But because the UV radiation is stopped by the Lexan, that means the Lexan is subject to the damage that it is preventing on the interior.  UV damage to Lexan causes it to turn yellowish brown and craze (millions of tiny surface cracks).  The effect is that your view eventually is destroyed:
    Lexan window after 7 years
  • Plexiglass eventually crazes too...  But after a much longer time period.  However it does not turn brown or discolor.
    This Plexiglass port is 38 years old.
  • Lexan is often touted as the "bullet-proof plastic":

    Tensile strength σΜ at 23°CMPa 60-70 80
    Flexural strength σbB MPa 90 115
    Impact strength acU (Charpy) kJ/m2 35 15
    • Lexan 9030 Sheet Product Datasheet
    • Plexiglas GS Product Description

    In tensile strength and flexural strength Plexiglass is stronger than Lexan.  Plexiglass is weaker than Lexan only in impact strength (resistance to penetration by a quickly moving sharp object). 

    These comparisons are made on virgin material in both cases.  I have no data, but all that surface crazing has to act as stress risers and therefore crack starters - much earlier for Lexan than for Plexiglass.
  • Lexan is two to three times more expensive than Plexiglass.
  • Lexan is less scratch-resistant than Plexiglass
So, as in many things in life, the choice is not as clear (pun unintentional) as it might seem at first blush.  As the midway carny says, "You pays your money and you takes your chances."

I will say tho, that for Eolian, we have chosen Plexiglass whenever it was available.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Best Garlic Press. Ever.

We've tried a lot of different kitchen tools for slicing and dicing garlic aboard Eolian.  But this little jewel that Jane found at the Ace Hardware in Friday Harbor takes first prize, running away.

Here's the business end.  You open the top and place your peeled clove on the grid.  Closing the top pushes it thru; all those little green fingers on the lid make sure that every delicious morsel is pushed all the way thru.

And for neat handling, the diced garlic goes into this little drawer, which you can then just pull out.  I'd say it holds 3-4 tablespoons, which ought to be enough for most meals.  Maybe.  But I suppose you could dump it and come back for more.  (Yes, we like garlic aboard Eolian.  You have been warned.)

For cleaning, the grid snaps out...

And the the gray plastic sweeper (what would YOU call it?) sweeps any garlic goodness that may be trapped between the fingers.  It's a clever design.

Finally, if you'd prefer sliced garlic instead of diced, there is a slicing grid stored in the very bottom.

They come in several colors, for about $10-13.  Now we are going to have to get one of these for the house.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Plea For Data: Salish Sea Bottom Hazards

Our recent experience in Friday Harbor tells me that our charts are not adequate.  There is at least one more wreck in Friday Harbor that is not on them, tho it is marked by a buoy.  But buoys break loose, and then the wrecks become marked only by local lore.

It strikes me that there is a lot of data on wrecks out there... existing as pencil scratchings on charts, notes in logs, etc.

It is time.  It is well past time, that this data be consolidated and made available to all.  Navionics has what they call "community edits" - crowd-sourced data, but not everyone uses Navionics.

So this is a plea:  A plea for all who read this post to dig thru their logs and charts and make all that accumulated wisdom and experience available to the entire boating community.

I will volunteer to maintain a public database of Salish Sea Bottom Hazards, until a better method for making this community data available to the entire community exists.

Here's how you can contribute and help your fellow boaters:
  1. Dig thru those logs and review all those notes on your charts.  
  2. For each wreck or other bottom hazard, note:
    • The location of the hazard - GPS/Lat-Long coordinates are most desirable, but if you don't have them then a verbal description
    • A description of the nature of the hazard, if known or available
    • The source of the data... Hard experience (!), NOAA, Navionics community edit, cruising guide, etc
    • If you wish to be associated with the entry and how (email, name, boat name, etc)
  3. Send this information in an email to WindborneInPugetSound (at) gmail (dot) com
Please don't worry that you might be providing duplicate data - that's fine.  I will sort it out.

So dig thru those charts and logs!  Be an active part of our boating community - lets all help each other!

Looking forward to your emails.

s/v Eolian

(Selfishly, I am most interested in data from Blind Bay, Friday Harbor, Echo Bay, Reid Harbor and Parks Bay.  In Parks Bay especially I would like confirmation of reports that the charted pilings in the south end of the bay have been removed, as has been variously reported) 


Monday, June 20, 2016

Is your chartplotter up to date?

If you are like us, your chartplotter was not purchased this year.  Or last year.  Or the year before that.

That probably means that not only are the charts out of date, but the software that runs the chartplotter is obsolete too.  What's a boater to do?

Certainly one option is to go out and buy a new chartplotter.  But that expense may not be necessary.

Our chartplotter is a Garmin 520 - very old indeed.  And when I hooked up an AIS receiver to it, I began to get an inkling that something was not quite right.  The main shortcoming that started this whole thing was that only Class B AIS targets were being displayed.  At first I faulted the AIS receiver, but no, it was actually the fault of the chartplotter.

So I did a search on the Intertubes.  And guess what?  Garmin has a whole host of updates available online.  For free!  And as for our 520?  We were at software version 3.00, and the current version for our device is 5.60.  Reading thru the changelog shows that we were missing years of bug fixes, improvements, chart updates and a whole lot of functionality!  Including proper handling of Class A AIS signals.

So I downloaded the update.  But there's a catch.

As it turns out, the actual update is a file which you put on an SD card, and have that card in the chartplotter when you turn it on.  The chartplotter finds the file, and then goes thru an update cycle.  But thru remarkably provincial micro$oftian  thinking, the downloaded file is a micro$oft executable.  If you have a micro$oft computer, you can run this executable, which, yes you guessed it, just puts the file on an SD card.  Why Garmin didn't simply provide the native file for download is a mystery that only micro$oft fanboys would understand (curse them and their ancestry forever).

It is not often that you can update your marine electronics for free...  I am more than happy with our "new" chartplotter.  I suspect you will be too!

nb: I previously reported that Garmin had discontinued software support for the old devices...  NOT TRUE!  It's still there, at the bottom of the page in the above link!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Ratty Port Replacement

One of two failing ratty fixed ports

Last summer while doing gelcoat repair, I mentioned that the ratty fixed ports on Eolian's aft-facing cabin house were long overdue for replacement. Well, now is that time.

Even Plexiglas eventually falls prey to the relentless UV from the sun, tho it lasts far, far longer than Lexan - this port is 38 years old.  If it had been polycarbonate, it would have looked much worse after only 5 years.

Tho there are no leaks (yet!), the bedding is overdue for replacement, as well as the port.
Removing the port was easy.  Back out the screws on the inside, and then push it out.  No, that bedding was definitely NOT firmly holding the port in place.  Tho it was clearly not leaking, there appeared to be no reason for that except for habit.

The next problem was that the new port is a little larger than the old one (well, I guess that's better than the reverse...).  First I taped over the entire area with some white duct tape I had on board to protect it from the vibrating sabersaw table.  Then I used the outer trim ring of the new port as a stencil, and marked a cut line.  My trusty (but crummy - I gotta get a better one) saber saw with a grit-edge blade cut thru the 1" thick sandwich of fiberglass, foam, fiberglass with relative ease.  To constrain the mess, Jane was  inside with a shop vac positioned to catch the dust and chips.

(Note to self:  Next time, just tape some plastic over the inside and clean up afterwards - that will be more effective and easier.)

The new opening port is a little larger than the old one.
Before the final installation, one more step was necessary.  Because we often sit on the back deck and lean against the bulkhead that has this port (and a second one, which will also get replaced), it was necessary to trim the spigot to a minimum projection - for comfort.  So I installed the port, held the trim ring in place, and traced around the projecting spigot with a ballpoint pen.

Then I removed the port and laboriously cut off the extra spigot length with a hand hacksaw (the same one I used to cut the exhaust hose...).  I preferred to use a hand tool for this job because, tho it cut slowly...  it cut at a speed that permitted me to maintain a uniform 1/8" from the pen marking.  After cutting, I used a fine file to smooth off the saw cut markings, and break the resulting sharp edges slightly.

Trimmed and ready for final caulking
Before final installation, I carefully sealed the exposed foam core in the opening with the same silicone that Beckson requires for bedding the port*.  If there was any leakage in the future, I didn't want it to get into the core.  Then I injected silicone into the gap between the port and the deckhouse, and smeared a little on the back side of the trim ring.  Press the trim ring into place, some clean up, and it is done!

Now, one more to go, and then all the fixed and opening ports on the boat will have been replaced, giving us a total of 11 opening ports.

* I hate the use of silicone on a boat, but this is one of the few places that I will use it.  In this case, it is because Beckson specifies it.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Permanent moorage in Friday Harbor

The red arrow shows our location

We dropped anchor in Friday Harbor on Tuesday, pretty much in the normal place.  Well, one of the two or three normal places - anchorage is pretty limited there due to the number of (mostly unoccupied) mooring balls.

Not long after, after the tide had changed, we noticed periodic rumbling from the anchor chain.  This is unusual; we thought that the chain was being dragged across something on the bottom.  So we decided to move.  Well, not so fast, there Pilgrim...  with 125 feet of chain still out, the windlass stalled.  Attempting to free the boat by motoring in various directions was fruitless.

So here we sit, now permanently at anchor in Friday Harbor.  At the moment, our chain is straight up and down, so we are directly over the obstruction.  Our location is (mark this on your chartplotters): 48° 32.137' N, 123° 0.483'W

This makes the third wreck that I know of on the floor of Friday Harbor.  I know that one of them has a buoy marking it, and I know now that one does not.  The third one?  Not sure - maybe one of those unused mooring buoys marks it too.

All I know is that it is going to be very difficult to convince me to anchor in Friday Harbor again until the Port of Friday harbor reports these wrecks to the DNR and gets them removed. 

OK, here's the postmortem. 

When we anchored, I avoided the wreck marked on the chart, known locally as "the old fishing boat that had been permanently anchored there for years, and finally sank". But when our chain started 'grumbling' as the boat swung to the tides, I thought maybe the position marked on the chart was off. We tried to raise anchor, but stalled the windlass with 125' of chain still out. Thought for about a beer, and then contacted Jill and Brent who live aboard s/v Ambition at the marina for a diver reference; they recommended Kurt Schwalbe. He came out yesterday afternoon at slack water (currents in Friday Harbor can be very strong - trying to do work down there while fighting the current would be terrible). Kurt deserved the stellar reputation he has. He is friendly, professional, deliberate, and a problem solver. Before going into the water, he discussed his plan with us, in detail.

It turned out that this was NOT the fishing boat, but yet another wreck on the bottom of Friday Harbor - a 21' skiff. And our chain had not only sawed partly thru the fiberglass wreck, but had it wrapped up like a Christmas present. Kurt untangled everything, but was not able to pull the chain out from under the wreck, where one turn had wedged itself. So we put Eolian's Perkins 4-236 diesel to work. After 3 or 4 mighty tugs, we were FREE!!!

Kurt enjoying a well-deserved IPA after the dive

I have marked the position of this wreck on our Navionics charts as a community edit, so if you use Navionics, you already have its location. If you don't, here are its coordinates:
48° 32.137' N, 123° 0.483'W


Monday, May 30, 2016

The Navionics App

I LOVE the new version of the Navionics app especially the new presentation of your collection of "favorites" areas.  You get just about everything you could use or need in one integrated display.  Look what is displayed..
  • Current weather, including wind speed and direction
  • Sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moon set, moon phase
  • Projected weather
  • Tide (nearby station)
  • Current (nearby station)
Everything you need in a single integrated display.  The Navionics user interface designers must have had some interesting discussions on how to get all this into a single screen.

There is a minor problem with the current version, however.  I have been working with Navionics on getting a minor nag corrected:

In this display, you can see three different representations of the state of the tide:
  • In the upper part of the image, inside a blue circle, an "emptying glass" icon showing that the tide is at 5.8 feet and falling,
  • in the "Details section, a graph showing the tide curve and where we are on it, and
  • in the "Details" section, another "emptying glass" icon showing that we are at 5.8 feet...  AND RISING
    That's right... The icon in the Details section has the arrow indicating the wrong direction.  This error only occurs for a little while around slack (high & low), but still, it is wrong.  

    I bring this up only to emphasize that the Navionics personnel are very, VERY responsive to customer input, and they are actively working on this (pretty trivial) issue; it will probably be fixed by the time you read this.  I appreciate that they are continually fine tuning and improving their software.  And I have talked before about their involvement with community-oriented crowd-sourcing of depth information before.  These are good folks, people!

    I love these folks, and I love this app!  If you don't have it, how could turn down a replacement for a chartplotter that sells for as little as this?  Answer: you can't.

    Get it.


    Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    How To Coil A Hose

    Now what?

    Previously I talked about how to coil a line, using a figure-8 pattern in order to avoid imparting twist...  twist that would cause problems when the line is taken off the coil.

    Well, that same problem also exists with stiffer things, like hoses.  Except that (sticking with hose) a figure-8 coiling pattern really doesn't work very well.  

    In a couple of pictures, here's how to coil a hose without adding twist:

    Put the first turn of the hose on the bracket in the usual way.  This puts a half-twist into the hose.

    But for the second turn, instead put a REVERSE twist into it, making the free end come out UNDER the turn instead of over it, cancelling out the twist imparted by the previous turn.  The first time you do this it will feel awkward.  But after the tenth time, it will feel completely natural.

    Just alternate regular turns and reverse turns for the rest of the length of the hose.

    You'll end up with a neat coil, and more importantly, one that has no twist in it so that when you pay it off of the bracket, you won't have kinks appearing.

    This works just as well for other things too, like a heavy extension cord, for example.  But here is a caution: when both ends are free, it is all too easy to withdraw an end from the the wrong side of the coil when unwinding it.  If you do this, instead of a twist-free line, you'll get a whole series of overhand knots.  Of course, with a hose that stays attached to the hose bib, it is difficult (but not impossible...) to make this happen.

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