Monday, June 25, 2018

Dodger? Why Not?

If you take a walk down any given dock here in the PNW, you will notice that virtually all the sailboats over about 30 feet long will have dodgers (except racing boats of course, but they are a different breed).  And except for a few obviously home-made ones, they are constructed of stainless tubing and canvas.

Have you asked yourself, "Why is this?"  I have.

They are made from stainless tubing and canvas because that is what the aftermarket can most easily produce to custom fit the broad variety of boats.  But these dodgers are not particularly sturdy and the canvas ages out over a decade or so.  And they are all add-ons, and they look it.

Why are these apparently universally desirable items left to the aftermarket to produce?  Why don't the boat manufacturers produce boats with designed-in, molded-in fiberglass dodgers?  If sailboats were cars, the auto manufacturers would be selling them without windshields.  And the aftermarket would be producing vinyl windshields that slowly decayed in the weather.

Question to my readers:  I have been in other parts of the coastal US but wasn't paying attention to the dodger issue.  Is this a universal trend in both temperate and tropical climates?  (I am virtually certain that all ocean-going cruising sailboats have dodgers.)

So. here's the challenge that I issue to Catalina, Hunter, Beneteau, Jeanneau, Morris, Hinkley, etc:
Design and produce sailboat decks with graceful, proportional, integral, fiberglass dodgers.  Dodgers that don't look like clumsy add-ons.
If not on all the boats you sell, then at least offer dodgers as an option.  If you don't try to price gouge on the dodger option, I think you will see that almost all the boats you sell will be ordered with the dodger option.

Come on.  I dare you.

Here's an example that anchored next to us today...  Doesn't that look nice?


Monday, June 18, 2018

Destination: Westcott/Garrison Bays, San Juan Island

So near, and yet so far. That's an apt description of Garrison and Westcott Bays.

Roche Harbor on the northwestern tip of San Juan Island is a busy place. Boats and huge yachts coming and going all the time, many holding position while they are assigned space at the docks, sea planes coming and going nearly continuously thru the day. Dinghies buzzing back and forth. And then there is that Retirement of the Colors Ceremony that is conducted every night at sunset.

Yet in the twin bays just the other side of a spit of land, there is peace and quiet.

Yes, the bays are shallow, but not too shallow.  In the chart above, the depth contours are the 1, 2, and 3 fathom lines...  there is plenty of depth for most boats to anchor, tho you should probably not try to go behind Guss Island.

(That's Roche Harbor at the top of the chart)

You will reach the twin bays thru a narrow passage that opens off of Mosquito Pass (Mosquito Pass leads from the south end of Roche Harbor to the Strait of Juan de Fuca).  Mosquito Pass is a little tricky - you will want to pay attention to your chartplootter and depth sounder while navigating it.  Turn left (east) after passing red Buoy '6' and enter the narrow channel, again watching your plotter and sounder.  Anchoring is good on a mud bottom, but the north shore of Garrison Bay near Bell Point is infested with kelp.  And do pay attention, there is a shoal extending from Bell Point a surprising distance to the northwest.  Because of the contours of the surrounding land, the bays are very well-protected from winds, even from the southwest, which you might not expect.

The formal garden at English Camp

On the northern shore of Garrison Bay is English Camp, a National Park containing the preserved buildings remaining from the English occupation of San Juan Island (1860 - 1872).  Well worth your time for a visit - let your imagination range back a century and a half and try to imagine how things were then, before Kaiser Wilhelm I arbitrated a settlement between Britain and the United States as to where the national boundary would run thru the archipelago.

BBQ'd oysters
Those are baby oysters he is showing me

In Westcott Bay there is the Westcott Bay Shellfish Company (dotted rectangle), a working oyster farm that supplies much of Puget Sound with these shellfish delights.  They also have a casual food service featuring their oysters, clams and mussels.  But if you want to partake, be sure that you arrive before 16:00, when they shut down the outdoor kitchen.  Take the time to talk to the folks running the operation - they take their work seriously, are very friendly, and will be happy to educate you on the process of shellfish farming.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018


It was a blustery morning in Blind Bay - winds gusting to 17 kt out of the SW, and Eolian yawing back and forth on her anchor.  Our destination for the day was either Roche Harbor or Westcott Bay, depending...

Wasp Passage was even more blustery, with the wind changing from nearly zero up to 20 kt in the space of just a few feet, as it tested and found narrow little passages between the islands, or as the rotors formed by it skimming over the tops of the trees brushed the water.  Despite this, we did manage to get the mizzen up in a prolonged (ha!) calm spell.

But when we exited into San Juan Channel, we got the full brunt of it.  Given that the wind was forecast to be from the SW, and that we had indeed seen it from the SW in Blind Bay, I anticipated that we would have a reach (of some kind) in San Juan Channel, and indeed we did - 18 kt gusting into the high 20s, and not warm - temps in the 50s.  We raised the staysail which gave us a balanced rig, but Eolian seemed to be struggling some in the lulls.  So we put up the mainsail.  With this, we were making 5.5-6.5 kt thru the water - a comfortable speed.  But the mainsail added too much sail aft of the center of drag, and in the gusts Eolian wanted to round up - no, demanded to round up.  There was too much wind to fly the yankee, so we just tolerated the weather helm and proceeded up and into Spieden Channel.  In retrospect we should have dropped the mizzen - that would have moved the center of effort forward and paradoxically would have speeded us up, since I wouldn't have had to hold the rudder so far over to keep us off the wind and on course.

In the weird way of the winds in the San Juan Islands, when we entered Spieden Channel the wind veered around until we were sailing close hauled, at least part of the time.  We had to constantly fiddle with the sails between a beam reach, close reach, and close hauled tho our course remained constant at 270°.

Finally we reached the point where we could make the left turn into Roche Harbor.  Taking the sails down in that kind of wind is never easy, but we got it done.

Motoring into Roche Harbor, we continued to see wind speeds continuously in the 20s.  We toyed with the idea of just anchoring there - it had been a long, tiring day, and the attraction of being at anchor was powerful.  But Roche was not protected.  Tho there were no waves, the water was black with the wind everywhere.  This is where the 'depends...' came in.

We had talked about going to Westcott Bay or Garrison Bay as a destination this morning, and really, could it be any worse than Roche Harbor?  There should have been some protection from the contour of the land, and perhaps the wind would be thwarted some.  These bays are fairly large, but are shallow, meaning that anchorage available to Eolian would be limited.  And they are popular.  We had visited here one other time and the bays were packed shore to shore with boats.  Today however, there were no AIS signatures appearing in either bay.

Motoring directly into the teeth of the 25-30 kt wind howling down narrow, winding Mosquito Pass was not encouraging by any stretch.  I decided to give Westcott/Garrison a chance, but that we would probably have to turn around in there and go back to Roche.  At least that would be a downwind jaunt.

Miracle of miracles!  Almost as soon as we entered the narrow little cut into the twin bays, the wind dropped down to single digits -  I even think I heard angels singing...

We put the anchor down in the narrow channel of deep enough water in Westcott Bay, and began to unwind.  For us, today, Westcott Bay was the very definition of the word 'refuge'.



Monday, June 11, 2018

How To Make: Clotted Cream

Clotted cream.

That has a vaguely unsavory sound about it.  If you are like me, you may have heard of it in some British novel or story - Downton Abbey perhaps.  And you may have imagined something like sour cream...  but how would that go with high tea?

Well, let me assure you, it is not sour cream.  Instead it is a buttery, nutty, caramelly substance that is wonderful when spread on biscuits, pound cake, etc.

I had never had it until I decided to make it just to see what it was.

It is trivially easy.  Here is the recipe:
  • Pour heavy cream in an oven safe dish.  It should be big enough so that the cream makes a layer 1-1.5" deep.
  • Put it in a 180° oven for 12 hours - over night works well.
  • Cool, and then refrigerate.
  • Scrape the clotted cream off of the milk-like layer below.  It will be a little like scraping ice cream off of a layer of milk.  There will be a golden brown crust - include it; it will soften when stored with the remainder and add flavor.

That's it.

Could it be any simpler?  The only catch is that you cannot use ultra-pasteurized cream (it's already been cooked).

Try it - you're in for a really special treat!


Monday, June 4, 2018

Hypervent Alternative

Some boats have a problem with condensation accumulating under the mattress in their berths (for some reason, we don't see this on Eolian... I don't know why).  There are several products offered to address this problem, but they all seem to have the "marine tax" assessed on them.

I recently received this tip from a fellow boater that addresses this very issue and thought I'd pass it along:

As you know we are now living on our boat. The Vberth is our berth of choice but it suffered mightily from condensation under the mattress. We considered Hypervent , $9.69 a linear foot from Defender, 39 inch wide roll, and found it was sold here for $19.99 per square foot. Simple math says this is not a frugal choice. Then we found Keene's Driwall tm, a product used by the building trades to prevent rot and water penetration behind brick ( or similar) wall facing. $179 for 4 foot wide 45 foot roll, immediately a $90 saving even if you have 37 feet left over(it was only sold by the roll, no cutting). I managed to find an 8 foot piece from a builder friend of mine and we installed it. Success! No condensation and dry bedding. Total cost $0, even if I had to pay for it the total cost would have been under $30. Please pass this on to your more frugal readers.

SV In The Mood

(I suspect all my readers are frugal...)

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