Friday, April 21, 2017

It's OPEN!

Woo HOO!

Here in the gloomy PNW, we have our first, real day of spring.  The temperature is passing the 60° mark, the sky is sunny, the heat pump is turned off, and for the first time since way back in the fall of 2016, we have the storm windows out and our ports are OPEN!

We are flushing out the old winter air and replacing it with some flower-scented spring air!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Masking: The Problem

Spring fitting out season is approaching (or is already here for those of you south of the 48th parallel).  That means that there will be painting and varnishing, and where these exist, masking tape is not far behind.  There are all kinds of the stuff out there, and believe me, they are NOT equal, or even close.  Please allow me to give you the benefit of 20 years experience fitting out Eolian, and even longer in masking cars for painting...

Just: No.
There are all kinds of masking tape at the bottom of the rung, cost-wise.  For almost all uses that we here care about, they should be avoided.  The denizens of this rung of the masking ladder, even from a respected manufacturer,  have an inferior backing (that is, they will frequently tear lengthwise wihen you are attempting to pull a piece off the roll...), have an adhesive that is set by the sun, and are worse than useless should they be exposed to moisture (such as dew, on a summer's morning).  If you can get a good piece off the roll, in a day or two in the sun and morning dew, it will be permanently bonded.  You'll need solvents to get it off.  Even for painting a car, where the masking is applied and removed in the same day, the bottom tier is simply not worth it.

Probably No.

The next tier up is useful for things that will be applied and removed in a single day, or where the tape is shaded and protected from moisture (inside perhaps?).  When painting cars, this is what I use to hold the newspaper on the windows, etc.  But not where a clean line is needed.  You probably won't want this anywhere on a boat either.

Scotch's blue "painter's tape" is one that you might consider.  But it has what I consider an overly-aggressive adhesive (it might pull off an underlying paint layer), and also has a tendency to set up in sun or rain.  In addition, like the other tapes mentioned above, it has a "crepe" backing.  That is, the backing is slightly wrinkled on purpose, to make it possible to bend the tape around a curve.  Tho this could be handy in some cases, the wrinkles allow the paint to seep under the edges like this:

... so don't use this where you need a clean edge.

The only tape you'll find aboard Eolian is this:

Yes: Scotch 2080

Scotch 2080 (note the orange core).  This tape has,
  • A smooth backing, making for nice clean edges
  • A less aggressive (but perfectly acceptable) adhesive.  In most cases, it won't lift underlying paint layers.
  • An 8-day removal period.  Well, this might be slightly exaggerated, but still, under most circumstances, you won't need a chisel and acetone to get it off.

And a final note:   You use masking tape to prevent getting paint on the substrate.  This means almost by definition that you will be painting over the edge of the masking tape.  When you pull the tape, depending on how heavy the layer of paint is, how strong the paint is, and how well it is cured, you could pull chips or entire areas of paint off into the painted area.  To avoid this, I never allow more than one cured layer of paint on the tape before it is removed.  For example, when varnishing I pull the tape before the second coat has had a chance to set up hard.  This may be a little more work, but it avoids having to use a knife to cut the paint layer (and thus probably scoring the substrate) when pulling the tape.


Monday, April 3, 2017

It Really *Is* All About The Roux

A long time ago, Jane managed to snag one of those church cookbook compilations at the Shilshole book exchange.  What made this one special was that it was from Cajun Country...  yep, Nawlins.  It seems that almost every recipe in it starts out with something like, "Fry three strips of bacon.  Eat the bacon, and make a roux with the bacon fat."

So, if you're not into the best cooking the USA has to offer, what's a roux?   It is where you brown some flour in fat.  Done properly, it takes a while - up to or more than an hour, in fact.  But oh is it worth it!


Jane subscribed to a magazine a while back (that I can recommend for a whole bunch of reasons, not least of which is that they use the scientific method extensively in creating recipies...) called "Cooks Illustrated."

It just so happens that this month's addition addressed in one article Cajun cooking's most treasured ingredient:  the roux.  Cutting to the chase, here's the short version:  Instead of standing over a hot frying pan for an hour stirring a mixture of flour and bacon fat, toast the flour in your oven, and use the bacon fat elsewhere in the recipe.  

I made this chicken gumbo for dinner Saturday nite, and oh my goodness, was it good!

I toasted the flour at home in our house oven (I did it in a pie pan, and actually, I toasted much more than I needed, because I anticipated that I'd be making something needing a roux again...).  And then I completed the recipe on board Eolian.

Oh. My. Goodness.

If you try the recipe above, I found that a half recipe was more than enough to feed three...  we'll actually use it to feed four (two, twice).

Oh, and here's a recommendation:  subscribe to Cook's Illustrated.  You'll never have a boring meal again, nor will you have one that requires that you get every pot dirty either.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Drip, Drip - Round 2

Junior version

Rats. Bought the wrong one. Anybody need a brand new filter bowl for a Racor 500FG?  (Mine are 900FGs, it turns out).

Now I gotta wait for shipping.  Again.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

New Crew For Eolian!

It's a boy!

Abel Grant Salnick

On March 2, 2017, we welcomed Abel (Abe) Grant Salnick to Eolian's crew!  He arrived with displacement 8 lb 12 oz and a LOA of 21".  Mother, son and older sister Annie are all doing very well.  Father  is ecstatic.

Annie is very gentle with Abe


Drip, drip

All last summer whenever we ran our generator, the smell of diesel wafted up from under the floorboards.  I looked in vain for a leak on the generator, and had even begun to suspect that there was a high-pressure leak downstream from the injection pump - that would produce a fine mist that might not accumulate and reveal itself.

But when I pulled up the floorboards recently, after not having run the generator for months I found some diesel down there on the floor.

The hunt began anew.

What I finally found was that Racor filter #1 was very slowly leaking diesel... and that it was dripping onto the exhaust hose from the generator.  This explained why the smell seemed to be associated with running the generator.

Examination of the Racor filter bowl showed diesel wetting the lower portion of the bowl.

Racor #1 (filter bowl nearly empty)
There are two penetrations of the bowl - one for the drain (black), and one for a water detection probe or a plug if the probe is not installed (we don't have the probe, so: the white plug):

Bowl penetrations
What to do?  Well, the very first step was to valve Racor #1 out of the fuel line and Racor #2 in instead.  Then I had to get the diesel out of the bowl.  Thankfully, there is enough room under the bowl drain to fit an empty oil bottle.  Draining filled nearly three of these, pausing to go outside and dump them back into the tank, before the bowl was empty.

Diesel drainage tool
I then  removed the bowl.  I removed the drain fitting and the plug and inspected the o-rings that seal each...  Couldn't see anything wrong.  But I cleaned everything up and reinstalled the fittings and then the bowl.

I've refilled the Racor and am waiting to see if the leak re-appears.

While I am waiting (this is a slooow leak), I spent some time online looking to see if I could purchase those o-rings.  No dice.  I could probably take the o-rings to somewhere like Tri-county Diesel and try to get some replacements (both of these o-rings are viton, not neoprene, which makes it a little harder).

But then I found that I could buy an entire new filter bowl, complete with the drain and plug fittings and o-rings for less than $10, so I ordered one (how could I not?).  If my re-making of the o-ring connections fails to stop the leak, I'll just install the new bowl and keep the old one as a spare (I'll replace the o-rings on the old bowl with equivalent neoprene ones).


Monday, February 27, 2017

Still Thinking...

Design notes
For some reason which is obscure to me,when I am designing something, all my ideas and calculations end up on sticky notes.  This pile is right next to the laptop that I am typing on, right now.  Every design idea I have had on the new mizzen stack-pack is in that pile.  Scary, really.

But sticky notes are not the only tool I use.  For the layout on the fabric (and determining, therefore, how much fabric to order), I used LibreOffice's draw tool, with a scale of 1" = 1':

The order to Sailrite has been made (7 yd of the 46" wide Erin Green fabric, plus a whole bunch of notions: zippers, fasteners, etc). 

And delivered.

Now all I need to get going is weather decent enough to go out and lay out the cuts on the fabric... out on the dock.  Can't do it inside - the panels are 12 feet long.

Waiting for spring...


Monday, February 20, 2017

Sailor, and now Author

Drew, a frequent contributor to Practical Sailor and to our own Small Boat Projects, has branched out - he is now a published author!  Aside from making a few bucks to cover his time and effort in producing these books, Drew is paying it forward; he is giving new and less-experienced sailors the benefit of his extensive experience.

Drew, as an engineer (disclaimer:  as am I), has a precise, unambiguous writing style.  But he will also wax poetic, in the fashion of a man who has carefully examined his own motivations.

What is rare in the sailing genre is that Drew, again being an engineer, does not shy away from experimentation.  He does not accept "everyone knows" without actually testing it himself, rigorously.  What Drew reports is derived from first person experience and experimentation.  If he says it, he's tested it, and you can believe it.

So far, there are four books in the bookstore:
  • Keeping a Cruising Boat on Peanuts
    PDF, Pending 2017 Kindle, about 400 pages
  • Rigging Modern Anchors
    Pending 2017, TBD, about 250 pages.
  • Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Sailor
    Kindle, 143 pages, PDF, 154 pages
  • Faster Cruising for the Coast Sailor
    PDF, 183 pages, Pending 2017, Kindle, about 200 pages

To provide a little view into what's included, here is the Table of Contents from Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Sailor:
  • Acknowledgments 4
  • Preface 7
  • Part 1: The Singlehander
    • Chapter 1: The Reasons We Go Alone 11
    • Chapter 2: The Costal Philosophy 14
  • Part II: Preparations
    • Chapter 3: Docks 21
    • Chapter 4: Sailing 24
    • Chapter 5: Safety 41
  • Part III: Practices
    • Chapter 6: Sailing 63
    • Chapter 7: Safety 74
    • Chapter 8: Living 80
    • Chapter 9: Kids 85
    • Chapter 10: Summer 87
    • Chapter 11: Winter 88
  • Summary 100
  • Glossary 102
  • Appendix I: Annual Inspection 103
  • Appendix II: Tethers and Jacklines 108
  • Appendix III: Rainwater and Water Filtration 122
  • Appendix IV:  Climbing the Mast, Ladders, and Falling 136
  • Appendix V: Extension Ladders and Webbing Ladders 141
  • Appendix VI: Stropes 148
Come on, you know these books are going to make for wonderful reading at anchor!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Six Hours

I don't know what's the matter with me.

I have changed Eolian's oil twenty times now.  Each time I have run the engine prior to the task... to warm up the stiff oil (down there in the bilge, the temperature could be near the water temperature, 48° right now).

But not this time.  See, I was going to change the oil filter with this oil change, and I decided not to run the engine before that.  Eolian's Perkins 4-236 has a horizontally mounted oil filter, and with a long period between engine runs, it partially drains back thru the oil passages.  I didn't want to have to deal with a full oil filter when removing it.

So I decided to pump out the oil with our vacuum can, without an engine run, when it was cold.

Wow, was that a bad decision.

It took six hours of pumping on the vacuum can to get the 8 quarts of oil out.  Yes, the oil filter change-out wasn't as messy...  but it was so not worth it.

Oh, and I have a vacuum leak in the can somewhere.  It wasn't enough to pull a vacuum and renew it when it was filled with oil.  No, I had to pretty much keep pumping, for six hours straight.

I'm so exhausted that I can barely lift this bottle of beer to my lips.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Silicone, again

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might remember my declaring my absolute hatred for silicone rubber.  Our Previous Owner loved the stuff - he slathered it everywhere.  He even used it to glue stuff to Eolian's vinyl headliner.  I removed the various things, but try as I might, I was unable to remove the silicone from the vinyl without damaging it, creating a bigger problem than I was solving.

Years went by.

And then Drew reviewed a product: Re.Mov.It, aka DSR-5.  (Sorry Drew, I can't find the reference in your blog)...

I ordered some:

Holy cow!  This stuff actually works!

OK, it doesn't actually dissolve the silicone (I don't think anything would do that). But what it does do is soften it and swell it, making it easy to scrape off.

I applied it using the end of a paper napkin, wiping it on the silicone over and over.  And then I lowered my thumbnail and continued to wipe back and forth, scraping the silicone as well as wetting it.  The silicone came right off!

I need to mention again that previously I had actually reached the point of damage to the naugahyde headliner in trying to remove the silicone...  and now it's gone!

If you have a Previous Owner like ours, you need this stuff!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Free Waggoner Guide

2017 Waggoner Cruising Guide

If you're like me, it is possible that you didn't know that one of the most popular cruising guides to the Northwest is available for download, for free!  Deb, of s/v Kintala (currently on Florida's gulf coast) brought this to my attention - thanks Deb!

The guide downloads as a color pdf (Portable Document Format) file, which should be viewable on any operating system or device.  My copy is going onto my kindle and my iPhone.  What about yours?

Monday, January 23, 2017


Yeah, I mentioned this last time.

Eolian has two large lazarettes under her aft deck:

The lids for these drop into gutters molded into the deck.  I'm sure that as soon as they washed this boat that first time in the factory, they discovered that water overflowed the gutters and into the lazarettes.

So, they cut in a drain.  And just in case, they also installed a drain in the lazarettes too.  And all was well in Whoville.

For a while.

But sadly, when it rains, all manner of crap finds its way to the drains.  Yes, they block right at the top, and I periodically clear them.  More insidiously, they also block down below...  And when they do that, the lazarette fills with water.  And it doesn't drain thru the factory-installed drain... because the blockage is below that, at least it was last time.  In fact, when this happens, the water that goes down the gutter drain backs up thru the lazarette drain, actually making things worse!

And, as it turns out, the lazarette is not quite water tight.  That water slowly leaks down. Onto the foot of our mattress.  At my feet.  This is no bueƱo.

Thankfully this only happens when it rains.

Each of the drains has a 1/2" hose that led to this fitting tower, 

The fitting tower
which was screwed onto a thru hull located probably 18" above the waterline.  And as usual, in a near-inaccessible location, beneath my berth.

When I passed a piece of heavy wire down the drain in an attempt to clear the blockage, I was unable to make it turn the corner at the elbow.  Blockage one; me zero.

OK, time for a change in design.

I removed the fittings from the thru hull (remember: nearly inaccessible...).  Then I installed a hose barb wye fitting, with the two arms accepting the two drain hoses (still inaccessible...).  Finally, I installed a hose from the tail of the wye, curving it direct to the thru hull (inaccessible...).    To prevent a kink, I heated that hose with a heat gun and bent it into a sweeping 90° angle.  Being a wye, I should be able to pass a piece of wire thru it from either drain fitting without a hangup.

Because I was exhausted on completing this work, I failed to take any pictures - sorry. 

Opening a beer was higher on my priority list.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Stack Pack, Step I: Thinking

 It's cold outside.

Eolian sits in her slip, double-tied and with our additional "winter fenders" as prevention against the winter storms, with temperatures in the 20's, 30's and 40's and winds the same.  It is a time for dreaming, for planning.  (Well, except for the occasional repair, like the lazarette drainage problem which I'll write about some time...).

So what am I thinking about?  I'm designing, in my head, a stack pack sail cover for our mizzen.  I like to have the whole of a project firmly understood, run thru completely in my head...  before I start.  There are always surprises, but this minimizes them.

Why the sail cover?  First, our existing sail cover is shot.  It will make it thru this winter, but the next one is doubtful.  So some kind of sail cover is called for.  But why a stack pack?  I assure you, this not a fashion statement - there is a sound design reason.  Eolian's mizzen boom extends well beyond the stern rail:

Can you imagine putting on a conventional sail cover?  How would you do it?  Well, what this 69-year old man has to do is stand on the stern rail, wrap his right arm over the boom, and with only his left hand reach waaay out there to the end of the boom and single-handedly make up the three Common Sense fasteners on the cover at the end of the boom.  I haven't fallen in the water yet.  Yet.  But my right shoulder has been giving me some trouble of late, and so I can see the end of this procedure coming...  A stack pack solves the "dangling old man" problem.

A stack pack is supported by lazy jacks, which I installed last fall as the first step in this process.  This brings us to the first design issue:  how to actually support the cover with the lazy jack lines.  You might think that this was a "solved" problem.  Not so, by any means.  A walk down E dock showed this:
1. Lazy jacks attached to short straps sewn to the cover

2. Lazy jacks attached directly to the batten thru a grommet in the cover.  Note that there is no provision for adjustment of the lazy jack leg length

3. Openings cut in the batten support tube and lazy jacks tied to the batten

4. Lazy jacks attached to full-length straps sewn to the cover

All of these sail covers were professionally made; all are different.  In each case, I find something that is objectionable:
  • Two sail covers, examples 1 and 4, have the jack lines attach to straps;  the batten provides no vertical support.  Consequently the cover "drapes" around the straps.  Example 4 provides far better support for the cover fabric than does example 1.
  • Example 2 has the jack lines supporting the batten directly, but because of the single grommet hole, there is only a line entry.  I conclude that the line is terminated on the batten internally.  That must mean that there is no provision for adjustment of the jack line lengths.
  • Example 3 also has the jack line support going directly to the batten.  In this case, the lines are tied around the batten which gives good shape to the cover (as in example 2).  However, all jack lines have a forward component to their pull.  As you can see, this has caused the attachment to slide forward against the opening of the fabric and will eventually cause a chafing problem there.

I have decided to use a variation of example 3.  In my case, I will drill a hole in the batten (sched 40 PVC pipe), and pass the jack line end thru that hole.  This fixes its location on the batten and yet provides for adjustment of the jack line length.

In order to make those openings in the cover to admit the jack lines, I will make the cover sides of two pieces of fabric: a side and a top.  If it were a single piece, sewn to make a loop or pocket for the batten (as for example, in the Sailrite design), cutting and finishing the openings out in the middle of a large piece of fabric would be very difficult.  In addition, if the top edge of the sail cover is to have any curve at all (a curved sheer is always more graceful than a straight one...), then the side of the cover and the top must be made of two separate pieces of fabric.

I think I have the seaming details worked out:
  • Cut out the fabric pieces, and then for each side of the cover:
  • Cut out the jack line openings in the top edge of the side piece.
  • Apply finishing binding to the edges of the cut out openings
  • Sew the top surface to the side surface at the top edges, wrong sides together
  • Make a loop or pocket with the stitched seam folding it back against the side piece, leaving sufficient room to slide in the batten pipe.  Stitch it down.
  • Done properly, this should provide lazy jack openings which are finished on all but the bottom edge; the bottom edge is formed by the seam between the side and the top.

See what I mean by "thinking it out?"

OK, now I have to think about the forward and aft ends of the cover and what they will look like...

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