Sunday, January 31, 2010


We go to the Seattle Boat show tomorrow.

It is billed as the largest boat show on the west coast, and it may well be.  It occupies the whole of the south end of Lake Union with boats in the water, and the Quest Field Event Center with boats on blocks and gear.  To do the whole thing and do it well is exhausting.

The boat show
The boat show
The big Seattle boat show

There.  If you are from Seattle, you now have an annoying little jingle running around in your head.  OK, I know that was cruel. 

The only way to get a jingle out of your head is to replace it...  so now go listen to some good music.

Those of you outside of Seattle, consider yourselves fortunate.  But go listen to some good music anyway.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why I Like Winters in Seattle

Yes, that is a camellia, and yes, it is in bloom.

In January.

At least I think it is a camellia.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Early Morning

That picture up there ? At the top of the page?  It is a shot taken from out on the Sound, at dawn, looking back East at the Edmonds shoreline.  If you look closely, you can just see a ferry leaving the Edmonds ferry terminal for Kingston.

I knew you were wondering.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Maintenance: Top Off the Batteries

This last weekend, we tackled one of the annual tasks on Eolian:  battery maintenance.  Eolian has 8 batteries - 6 group 31 12V batteries (think truck battery), and 2 Trojan 6V golf cart batteries.  (In this picture from 2002, the starboard side batteries had been removed to refurbish the compartment.)

The 6-12V batteries are arranged in two banks of 3 each, with a total of 300 amp hours of rated capacity in each of the banks.  These are the house/engine starting batteries.  The 2-6V batteries are connected in series to serve two other purposes:
  • Generator starter battery bank
  • Windlass battery bank
In this way, should all the house batteries be drained, say in trying to start the engine, it will still be possible to start the generator to recharge the house banks.

But I digress.  This weekend, I crawled down in the bilge with a gallon of distilled water (always use distilled water - you don't want the minerals in tap water to foul up the chemistry) and topped up the batteries.  Tho none of the cells was particularly low, a total of 2/3 of a gallon of water was gone when I climbed back out of the bilge.  Those 8 batteries have a combined total of 42 cells, and even a little water added to each adds up to quite a bit altogether.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Project: Adequate Current For The Bilge Pump

Eolian has 3 bilge pumps, at various levels in the bilge.  Each is controlled from this panel, mounted just to starboard of the companionway stairs.

The primary pump is a huge 3700 gal/hr pump, which needs 14 amps at load.  The other pumps are smaller.  (Number two has a bell wired in parallel with it, so that when it runs, the bell serves as an alert.)

Eolian's showers drain into the bilge and are pumped overboard by the #1 pump.  Some have said to me that it is a shame to be running the bilge pump so often.  But I have a warm feeling when I am showering and the bilge pump kicks on.  It is a frequent check of the serviceability of this important system, which otherwise might never be tested until it was absolutely required to be running. 

But apropos to the subject of this post, the wiring to all three bilge pumps was 12 gauge.  Tho 12 gauge wire would have been adequate to serve the large pump, it was inadequate to serve all three pumps running simultaneously.  Having all three pumps running at once is not a situation I would want to see, but should it happen, I would certainly want there to be enough power supplied that all three *could* run simultaneously.  So step 1  was to pull the 12 gauge wire and replace it with 10 gauge.  The breaker in the power panel was upgraded to 30 amps too.

I had originally thought that this was the end of the job.  But later, when I was running the pump manually, trying to scavenge as much water from the bilge as possible, I noticed that the pump ran considerably faster when I held the "Off-Auto-Manual" switch in Manual.  Hmmm.  The only difference between Auto and Manual is that the current for the pump has to pass thru the float switch when Auto is used.  I checked the connections (I had made them) they were soldered and still solid.  Despite being rated for this pump, it was apparent that the bilge pump switch was limiting the performance of the pump.

So I installed a relay.  Having had less than stellar luck with conventional mechanical relays on board, I found a solid-state relay that would do the job for a pittance on eBay.  This one is rated for 40 amps, and only requires a few milliamps to trip.  That is, with the relay in place, the float switch only has to switch a few milliamps - the current to the pump goes directly thru the relay.

The difference was like night and day.  Not only did the pump run better - it ran better than when I had used the Manual position on the switch panel earlier. 

If you have a high-capacity bilge pump onboard, I strongly recommend you install a relay too, in order to get all the performance you paid for from your pump.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Destination: Parks Bay, Shaw Island, San Juan Islands

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.

Shaw Island
Excerpt from Chart 18421
Just a short trip, across San Juan Channel from Friday Harbor, lies lovely Parks Bay.  Parks bay is a delightful, close little cove, with room for perhaps a dozen boats or so.

Parks Bay
Depths in fathoms
Anchoring is good here on a mud bottom, especially so in the back. The little bights in the very back are full of pilings tho, which are only just visible, still submerged at low tide.  You should anchor there only after careful exploration with a dinghy.  The last time we were there (summer 2009), there were some escaped dock segments tied to some of the pilings, making wonderful places for small boats to tie up, and more importantly, clearly marking the pilings.

The heavily forested shoreline is all owned by the University of Washington and is marked No Trespassing.  There are no houses, but there is a UW pier and small shed in the very back of the bay.  It is apparently connected to the road system on Shaw Island, since we have seen a pickup truck parked there infrequently.

There was no (ATT) cell phone coverage and no internet available in Parks Bay when last we were there.  This is not surprising, given the high ridge of land carving the bay out of San Juan Channel, and the unoccupied shoreline.  On the forested shoreline you are almost guaranteed to see deer in the mornings and evenings.  Parks Bay is a little bit of quiet, disconnected, peaceful idyllic heaven.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Of Bay Leaves and Ziplocks

This time of year, storage on a boat poses some unique problems - problems that I hope you'd never see if you are living in a house.

The storage areas on a boat are reserved for those spacial odds and ends.  They make use of otherwise hard-to-utilize places, usually up against the hull.

Now I want you to imagine the storage spaces on either side of the aft berth.  See those two doors under the books, and partly obscured by the pillow (there are two more on the opposite side too)?  Those compartments are just the right size to store sweaters, sweat shirts, and other "stuffable" clothing.  And those compartments are indeed "stuffed".

We heat the boat to a very comfortable temperature, and keep it that way.  But the "stuffing" in those compartments acts as a very effective insulator.  On the outside wall of the compartment, the hull is at essentially the outside air temperature, which could be below freezing.  At the inside of the door, the temperature is pretty close to that in the living space.  So, the temperature falls thru the clothing, from the inside temperature to the outside temperature.

Next fact:  We try to minimize air exchange with the outside - after all, the incoming air is at  outside temperature.  So, the moisture produced by two healthy bodies breathing, and that which escapes from cooking ("simmer for an hour until the sauce thickens" just means to boil off a lot of water from the sauce) all remains inside.  Finally, when we burn propane inside (the stove burners, but much more importantly, the oven), all of the moisture from that ends up inside too.  So, it is not unusual for the windows to fog up during cooking, or when someone is showering.  But after a while, they clear.

So where does that moisture go?  It migrates to the coldest places on the boat, where it condenses back to liquid.  Yes, you got it:  those storage compartments against the hull.  At some point, the temperature profile thru the clothing will drop below the dewpoint.  Everything you want to keep dry in those compartments had better be enclosed in plastic - plastic ziplock bags (they come in all sizes - some really huge!) and tupperware containers (there are some really nice ones) are your friends.

Now, I don't want you to get the idea that we live in a sauna - not at all.  But you won't find boats with humidifiers onboard either.

In the galley, storage deals with a slightly different problem:  weevils.  These tiny creatures seem to appear spontaneously in almost any food item, but most commonly in the grain-based: rice, cake mixes, flour, crackers etc.  The cure for them is easy, and almost magic:  bay leaves.  If you put a bay leaf in any opened food item, it will stay weevil-free.  No, I don't know why it works - but it does.  Jane even has bay leaves scattered on the pantry shelving, for good measure.

Two simple things, bay leaves and ziplocks, make all the difference in boat life in the winter.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What Kind of Anchor?

You'd think that the job of an anchor would be pretty simple - it boils down to: "Stay!"

A really big, heavy weight would work.  But it would be hard to hoist and hard to store on a boat.  So anchor designs have evolved to minimize weight, using shape as a substitute for it.  An anchor not only has to grip the bottom, it has to maintain that grip in a storm, when there will be hours of pulls and jerks on the anchor rode.  And it has to maintain that grip when the wind or the tide shifts, causing the pull to change direction, often 180°. 

Over the years, many kinds of anchors have been invented.  In the modern boating world, the variety available is wide - each type has its advocates, some of whom are almost evangelical in their zeal.  I do not want to stir up controversy, so in what follows, I am not advocating; I am describing: what has and has not worked for us, and for our neighbors.  Also, different kinds of anchors work better with different types of bottoms.  Our cruising area is mostly mud bottom, with the occasional sand, so these experiences reflect that. 

Speaking of mud, with a mud bottom, there is a minimum anchor weight.  If the anchor is not heavy enough (regardless of its shape, or the size of the boat from which it hangs), it simply will not bite effectively into the mud, no matter how clever the design.  Instead, it will skip along the bottom ineffectually, or just the tips of the flukes will catch, leaving you to think that you are hooked.  But the first time the wind comes up, it will pop out.  I have a great "I learned about sailing from that" story about one such incident (with a Danforth) that happened to us.  I suspect that that minimum weight is about 20 lb. 

Around G Dock at Shilshole, these are the types of anchor most commonly seen:

The Danforth

This is the original lightweight anchor design.  The design patent has apparently run out, since there are many "danforth-like" anchors out there now made by other manufacturers.  These bury well in sand, but if you are using one on our hard mud bottoms, be sure that it is well and truly hooked.  Also, because of the large surface area, let it hit the bottom before backing up with very much speed, or
the anchor will "fly", skipping along the bottom.

We have two of these on Eolian, one as a bower, and one stowed in the lazarette for use as a stern anchor.

This one on Ghost surely weighs way more than my 20 lb recommendation, above.  There is now a lightweight version of the lightweight Danforth, made of aluminum by Fortress.  Tho they are easy to handle on deck, beware!


On G Dock, the popularity contest appears to be a tie between the CQR and the Bruce (below) anchor.  The CQR (seen here on Irene) is a "plow" type, with a hinged shank.  The hinge allows for some change in the angle of pull without the anchor having to pull out and reset.  These anchors stow nicely on a bow roller.

We have never used one, but I think their popularity among experienced boaters speaks well for them.

The Bruce

The Bruce is our favorite - this picture is of Eolian's primary anchor.  It has never (knock wood) failed us, even when there was 30 kt blowing thru the anchorage.  They were originally designed for use to keep the North Sea oil platforms in place.  With this (66 lb) anchor and 3/8" chain rode, we use 3:1 scope under all normal conditions.  The shape of the "claw" allows the anchor to basically rotate in place when the angle of pull changes, meaning there is no reset at all when the tide changes.  It has no moving parts and stows nicely on a bow roller too.

The Navy Type

In the sizes used by pleasure craft, I cannot recommend this anchor.  (As an anchor for an aircraft carrier, at 60,000 lb, it is apparently a good fit.) We have had two boats on G Dock with this type of anchor drag and sustain damage.  Both subsequently changed out their anchors for one of the above types.

The Delta Type

I just today realized that in my original posting I had left out the third place holder in the popularity contest on G Dock: the Delta type.  These are welded up from plate  and are a plow type like the CQR, but without the hinge in the shank.

Whatever type of anchor you have, be sure to pull on it, hard, with the motor before you shut things down and break into the liquor locker or jump into the dinghy.  If you want to sleep well, you don't want to wonder if the anchor will break out should the wind pipe up.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thru the Veil

Yesterday, Jane and I took a trip up to Stevens Pass for skiing. (I am sorry that this is the third non-boating post in a row... I promise it will be the last one.)

Now, this is not a whine. But I do need to set the scene a little. It has been raining in Seattle. Like only Seattle can do it, day after night after day after night, relentlessly. And the drive up the mountain was very noisy because of the rush of the tires on the wet pavement, and even more because of the continuous machinegun splat of the rain drops on the windshield. After a while all the noise kind of fades into the background of your awareness, but it doesn't disappear.

And then suddenly, the noise just *stopped*.

It was snowing! It was like passing thru a veil into a different world, the transition was that dramatic.  (Do I still have Avatar on my mind?)

It snowed the whole time we skied, *hard*. The kind of snow where it is is not snowflakes that are coming down, but rather big fluffy clumps of snowflakes. One of those big clumps down the neck is always cause for a whoop!

The crowning end of the day was that when we got back down to sea level, the rain had stopped, and we got treated to an actual, very dramatic sunset!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whistler Emulation

Last weekend, we had a family ski trip to Whistler/Blackcomb, in British Columbia planned.  This is a huge undertaking, and involves a non-refundable condominium rental, purchase of lots of food, and the incredible logistics required to get three groups of people together at the same place, at the same time, and with all required gear.

One family group (who shall remain nameless) apparently put their passports in an extremely safe place.  So safe, in fact, that approximately 8 hours of frantic searching did not disclose them.  So, they could not go to Canada.

Now here's the great thing about our family:  None of the rest of us wanted to go without the whole crew.

So we did a Whistler trip emulation.  We designated Adam's house as the Whistler condo.  We gathered there for lunch (after a final passport search), using the food planned for Whistler.  Then, we all went as a group to see Avatar (See it!  You'll cry.), and then we had dinner at the "condo", playing the DVD ski movies until late like we would have at Whistler.

Tho we all went home to sleep, we gathered again at Adam's for a Whistler breakfast, and then loaded up the Suburban.  We spent the day skiing at Stevens Pass.  Returning again to the "condo" we played Irish music (just like we would have heard at the Dubh Linn Gate in Whistler Village, and drank Adam's beer (which is far superior to any Canadian beer).  We played Wii games, and hearts and drank wine and beer, at the "condo".

The only part of the trip we did not simulate was the drive back to the US on Monday.  Instead, Jane and I rose lazily at 09:30.  The only thing we accomplished that day was to get the Suburban unloaded.

This is such a great family.

Deep thoughts before coffee

Walking down the dock to shore this morning, my mind was still filled with Avatar (See it!  You'll cry).  One of the great appeals of this movie is that it successfully creates total immersion in a world which is very beautiful, and very different from the one we inhabit. 

And then I was granted a small flash of insight.

There is a parallel in my own life.  Living aboard is living in a world which is very beautiful and very different from the world in which most most people live.   In my own small way, thru these snippets and snapshots, I am trying to bring views of that world to you. So, I am kind of your avatar in the live-aboard world.

I really should drink more coffee before I leave the boat in the morning.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I learned about sailing from that: Be sure the anchor is hooked.

The year was 1986. We had our O'Day 25, Deja Vu III moored on the Chesapeake, at a marina in Tar Cove, not too far south of Baltimore, on the Western shore. On a week's vacation, we did a cruise, destination St. Michaels, on the Eastern shore. It was a great cruise, but this isn't a travelogue.

Upon arriving in St. Michaels, we anchored in the general anchorage, but at the very very far end, almost below a restaurant with outdoor seating, in quite shallow water, perhaps only 6 feet. The O'Day had a retractable centerboard, so shallow anchorages were accessible - she drew only 3 feet with the board up. The anchor was a small Danforth on 100 feet of 1/2" nylon rode.

After securing the boat, we dinghied to shore and the four of us (Jane, and I, and our two children Erica, and Adam) walked all around the harbor. When we had been ashore for perhaps 2 hours, I noticed that the sky was darkening, and the wind was freshening. Jane, ever the perceptive one, asked if I was concerned. I was. So we agreed that they would continue their tour, but that I would dinghy back out to the boat; I would watch for them to be waiting in front of the Whaling Museum, and I would come and pick them up. So, I went back out to Deja Vu.

The concern was justified. The sky turned black and the wind built. I sat nervously in the cockpit, watching. And then sure enough, in a gust the anchor broke out. Now, one of the problems with being anchored in such shallow water is that there is not much water behind you, between you and the big rocks on shore.

I had to do something. I started the outboard, and tried to keep Deja Vu pointed into the wind. But I couldn't really go forward, because the anchor rode, was up there - if I ran over it and got it into the prop, I would be well and truly screwed. So I sat there, steering the bow back and forth, trying to keep it in the eye of the wind, as the wind shifted and tried to blow us ashore. It was a delicate business, since if I got very far off of dead upwind, I didn't have enough horsepower to bring the bow up again. It must have been blowing 30 kt, and it was everything the 8 hp outboard had in it to keep us in place. Meanwhile, the folks having afternoon drinks right above me continued drinking and snacking, silverware and dishes tinkling - I was the afternoon show for them.

I knew I couldn't keep this up forever - eventually a wind shift would catch me out, the bow would fall off, and I'd be on the rocks. I needed to get away from the shore and out into deeper water. But that now useless anchor rode was up there, a trap waiting to be sprung, and I was back at the stern, 100% occupied keeping the bow into the wind. I finally came up with a plan: if I could get to the bow and snag a loop of the anchor line, I could return to the stern with it. Then I could retrieve the anchor, little by little, in the moments when the wind held steady.

Eventually, I got the chance - the wind slacked while holding steady. I bolted forward and brought back a loop of the rode, and got the bow back into the eye of the wind before it returned to full force. In the next minutes, I retrieved the rode, a little at a time. When I could see the anchor hanging in the water off the stern, I went to full throttle continuously, and without the risk of running over the rode, made it out to deeper water. When I was out there, I turned the anchor loose from the stern, and went forward to let out more rode. The anchor caught, and held.

There was applause from the restaurant.

I sat and shook, waiting for the adrenaline to flush from my bloodstream. I saw Jane and the kids on shore - they had watched the whole thing. Eventually the storm dissipated, and I went ashore and got them.


  • Use an anchor heavy enough to bite into the bottom.
  • When you put the anchor down, pull on it with the motor, hard. Be sure it is hooked. Do not leave the boat until you have done this.
  • Anchoring close to shore gives you very little time to respond if the anchor comes loose.
  • Keep an anchor watch in storm conditions - if I hadn't been aboard, we would have lost the boat.

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

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


Sunday, January 10, 2010

On The Hard

"On the hard" - I think that's a phrase you'll only hear if you're in the boating community.

Every few years, depending on where your boat is moored, it will become necessary to remove it from the water to do maintenance on the normally submerged parts.  It is an experience as traumatic for the boat owner as it is for the boat.  In the yard we use, the relationship you have with the yard manager and the Travel Lift operator is much like that you would have with your family doctor.  They really do understand that your boat is a member of your family, and that you are entrusting your family member's care to them.

Boats are normally supported by gentle, conforming, liquid pressure distributed on every square inch of their submerged surface.  Everything about the haulout is the opposite.  The entire weight of the boat is borne over a very small area, on metal or wood.

But I am ahead of myself.  For us, the first trauma is backing into the Travel Lift dock.  Eolian's rig makes it necessary to do the lift this way.  I've talked before about the difficulty of backing up.  But in a nutshell, because both the thrust from the engine and the rudder are at the stern, any wind or current makes the rest of the boat almost uncontrollable.  Think of a flag, flying from a flagpole.  The bow flies from the stern like a flag.  So we always hope for benign conditions on haulout day.  Sometimes we get it.  But for the last one (in March 2008), we had a 20 kt crosswind, driving rain and temps in the low 40's.  Yuk.  It took a lot of help from the guys in the boatyard (special kudos to Harris!), but we finally got Eolian into position, with no damage.

But my heart is always in my throat when the lift begins.  That's our home!  And it is going straight up in the air!  Are the straps in the right place?  Will they stay in place and not slip?  Will the Travel Lift operator be really, really careful?  And the poor boat - now supported by only two straps.  Please don't let them break! (That's an actual multi-million dollar "oops" - not photoshopped.  Note the poor guy crouched on the stern riding it down.)

Next stop:  the pressure washing station, where the accumulated sea life is unceremoniously blown off the hull.  Sometimes there is enough to make a nice seafood dinner!  All that water is captured and re-used, meaning that it is saturated with expired sea life, so the smell is, um... unique.

Then she gets blocked up, supported on wooden cribbing and braced with special stands so she doesn't fall over.  This is not how she likes to be supported!

And then the real fun begins.  First of all, living aboard while you are on the hard is difficult.  You can't use the heads because they use sea water for the flush.  Next, you can't use any of the sinks on board, because they will just drain on the ground.  The refrigerator is out of commission, because it is water cooled.  The heat pump won't work either, for the same reason.  So, you've gone from a self-sufficient comfortable life, to one which is camping out.  Well, kind of.  You eat out a lot because cooking is hard and washing the dishes is even harder.  You use the marina's toilets and showers.  And when you go to bed at nite, it is difficult to fall asleep.  Something is niggling at your subconscious...  Something is not quite right.  The boat is absolutely stationary.  It feels...  dead.

So you work hard to minimize the time in the yard.  But everything you might want or need is at the other end of a 12-foot step ladder.  It feels like you make a thousand trips a day up and down that ladder.  And everything in the yard is covered with dust and dirt, so no matter how hard you try, the boat gets dirty.  It truly is a race against time.  Because you don't want to be here.  Because the living is *not* easy.  And because the yard charges by the day.

All of us in the yard are in the same situation.  There is a certain camaraderie that develops.  Tools are borrowed, advice is given and expertise is exchanged.  In the evening, when the quiet hours are enforced, people gather and talk.  About why they are in the yard, about boats and about life.  New friends are made, and then forevermore, when you are out on the water, there are more boat names you are looking for thru the binoculars.

When all the work is done, and the bottom has a fresh coat of that $250/gallon paint, it is time for the Travel Lift to come back and pick you up again for the return trip to the water.  Oh joyous hour!

Then life can return to normal.

Until the next haulout.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I am so grateful...

I am sooo grateful that we live in such a temperate climate.

It's not that we have never experienced the cold - we spent roughly 20 years in Eastern Washington, in Spokane and Chewelah.  The worst winter I remember there was 1975/1976, when, in Chewelah, the daytime highs ranged as high as -20°F, and the nighttime lows were down around -50°F.  And we're not talking windchills here... that adds on top.  So I know what cold is, and I can sympathize with those of you in Montana and the Dakotas, where your furnaces are running 100% of the time and perhaps not keeping up.

But actually, virtually the whole country deserves sympathy.  Here in Seattle right now, we are warmer than almost all of Florida, if you can believe it.  Everybody is getting hit with temps to which they are just not accustomed.

Gratefulness is something that I sometimes have to work at.  But not right now.  Every time the heat pump kicks on, the gratefulness kicks in.  And when it shuts off (meaning that the boat has been raised from 69.5° to 70°), another even bigger wave of gratefulness washes over me.

Hey you folks in Miami - hop a plane to Seattle for some fun in the sun!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Read FREE!

Now seriously, what could be better than free?  Well, free *and* good is better.  Here in the Pacific NW, we have a multitude of free boating magazines that are distributed to the various chandleries and marinas, available free for the taking.

Our two favorites are:

48° North

This is a non-glossy publication, devoted pretty much exclusively to sailing and sail boats.  In it each month, sailing in the Pacific NW is encapsulated.  Racer?  Yup, all the latest results and standings.  Cruiser?  Yup, there's a section or three each month on various cruising destinations and gunkholes, much like my destinations posts, but way better written (my pictures are better!)  There's "Galley Essentials with Amanda", always an interesting cooking idea, tailored to the galley, not the trophy kitchen.  News from the business of boat brokers, chandleries, and other marine-related business.  New products. Well, just about everything you might want.

And if you are looking for a boat, the want ads in the back are a wonderful resource.  In addition, 48° also catalogs all the boats offered by brokers, organized by length.  So, if you are looking for a 27 footer, this is a great place to go to see a summary of what is available at the brokers docks.  (But go to the docks!  It's a wonderful day that is spent looking at boats!  And the brokers want you there - really!).

48° also has a web presence.

Northwest Yachting

The showpiece of this large format magazine is the cover art.  Each month a spectacular, luscious (really, that word does apply) photograph by our own Neil Rabinowitz (Neil lives on Bainbridge Island) fills your eye.  And evey month, the editors play with the title - it's always something - sometimes pretty subtle.  This month it is obvious - the bow of the boat is in front of the title.

Northwest is devoted pretty much (but not entirely) to power boats.  But since few sailboats are truely sail-only boats, there is a lot of crossover.  And both are boats, after all.  Much of the gear featured applies equally well to both power and sail.

Northwest has a large want-ad section in the back, and also has an organized catalog of broker powerboats.  Northwest Yachting also has a web presence.

I think if you are a power boater, Northwest Yachting is your magazine.  If you are a sailor, then you will enjoy both magazines.  We are very fortunate to have these two fine publications offered to us free every month.  Go get a copy of each, and do some dreaming.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Howard, Ship's Cat

For a number of years, we shared a berth with Tropic Star, a Howard Chappelle-designed strip-planked wooden schooner.  Joe and Sheila decided at one point that Tropic Star would be incomplete without a ship's cat, thus enter Howard.  Yes, he was named after Tropic Star's designer, and like the designer, he did not have a tail.

The lack of a tail did not seem to bother him.  Certainly he managed to get to all the catly perches on Tropic Star, like the end of the bowsprit.

No, not there...  all the way out at the end.  Which meant he had to do some decidedly catlike maneuvering to get past the foresail bag.  Howard only fell in once that I recall. (Joe and Sheila left a piece of carpeting hanging off the dock into the water to act as a kitty ladder.)

Howard was truely a sailor, in every sense of the word.  If you were a guest aboard Tropic Star, you were reminded that Howard liked beer.  See, if you set your beer down on the deck, he'd run up and knock it over and lap up as much as he could get away with.  Yep, a true sailor.

It wouldn't surprise me a bit to find he had an anchor tattoo under all that fur somewhere.

Friday, January 1, 2010


It has been a year since I started this blog.  Well not exactly - the anniversary will come up on January 28.  But today is such a big benchmark that I am officially and arbitrarily moving the anniversary to today.  That way, everyone will associate the beginnings of this blog with having a hangover - and how appropriate is that?

When I started, I had hoped to put up one posting a week.  Ha!  I got to writing, and pretty soon my backlog was bigger than the blog, so I upped the frequency to 3 a week.  And I pretty much kept that pace thru the year.
(Parenthetical observation:  By now you may have noticed that I refuse to use the baroque spellings of two common words:  night and through.  Instead, I use my modernized versions: nite and thru.  Yes, I am a rebel - in small things anyway.)
So, here at the end of the year and the start of another, I have 27 drafts or ideas stashed away.  Thru last year, my drafts folder kept a total between 25 and 30, so things are about normal in at least that respect.

So, looking ahead, for the coming year, you can expect at least these:
  • Parts II and III on crabs
  • The Haulout
  • A host of destinations in the South Sound
  • More San Juan Island destinations (no, I'm not thru with the San Juans yet)
  • At least 3 more "I learned about sailing from that" posts
  • More book reports 
  • Sailing - How I got interested, and the early years
  • Whatever new projects Eolian throws at us.  I must confess that the backlog of older major projects is nearly exhausted (some of you are going, "Yea!")
So, how's that hangover doing?  Made it worse, didn't I?
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