Friday, December 28, 2012


So here I sit at a Global Internet Portal (Starbucks), in Stanwood, WA no less. Yes, they are everywhere. I'm doing what cruisers do everywhere when at a GIP: sucking mightily on the Intertubes.

For the last several days we have been at the Camano Cabin, where internet connectivity is essentially non-existent. Well, not completely - I can intermittently reach a cell site on Whidbey Island with my iPhone, and use the phone as a network device, but everyone should know the suckiness of using the virtual keyboard on a phone... and then there's that helpful little imp, Mr. Autocorrect, who keeps changing what I type.

But here, ah here I can type freely at my normal blazing ordinary two-finger speed, and the letters stay on the page right where I put them. It's a joy.

But I have nothing boating to talk about - we've been away from Eolian for a long time. Days and days. A week even. And we won't be back for another week at least. I think I am starting to feel the first symptoms of saltwater deprivation.

But we had a great Christmas at the cabin, just Jane and me. And I have put in some quality time in the shop:
  • Pulled the engine and tranny out of the 1959 Impala
  • Bludgeoned the stuck piston out of the engine
  • Separated the engine and (cast iron!) tranny
  • Disassembled the engine and cleaned various parts

So it's been a good week, including a day of skiing at Stevens Pass. More of that to come...

For Christmas last year, we gave the kids some time in a cabin just over the crest at Stevens Pass - a skiing jump-off place. It's well high enough that there will be snow (a lot!) on the ground so the grand-munchkins can get some snow experience, and dogs are allowed. This means that the whole happy clan will be there - kind of like Thanksgiving at the Cabin, but with snow. And did I mention that its only 20 minutes from Stevens Pass?

Should be a lot of fun. Maybe there'll be pictures...


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

All is well here on Eolian, in this Christmas season, tho there is no snow here at sea level like there was in 2004. A blessing perhaps, but the snow makes everything prettier, the blanket of white reducing everything to the basics.

But really, isn't that a good thing - reduction to the basics? To shed all the chaff of everyday life - all those things that seem so important when we are in the midst of our self-created chaos? And to focus on those things that really matter.

This is relatively easy for liveaboards, since they simply do not have room for all those things - things that eventually own you. Cruisers have an even easier job of it.

And so for this holiday season, it is our wish to you that you can cast off the lines which bind you up and find Peace.

Peace to you, and Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas!

Bob & Jane
s/v Eolian


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Headlights on your boat

What?  You don't have headlights on your boat?  No?  Why not?

White, bright
You should.  An LED headlight like this one is dirt cheap (I got it at the hardware store for a few bucks).  It serves to shine a lot of light on whatever you are working on - in the bilge, on the engine, or on deck.  When you turn your head, the light follows, since it is right there, on your head.  It's like you have a telepathic helper magically holding a flashlight, always just where you need it.

And this one ("Energizer", by brand) also has a red LED for illumination while preserving your night vision.  Now really, you never know when this might become it's most important function.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day of the Joker

If you have been reading this blog, you already know that marine heads are different from household toilets in several meaningful ways, even if you live ashore.  If not, know this:  the marine head must pump the bowl contents up with a minimal amount of water, rather than flushing the contents down with prodigious quantities of water.

Because it is a pump, the marine head has moving parts, and more importantly, it has check valves - devices that are supposed to only allow fluid flow in one direction.  The Joker Valve is one such check valve - all the bowl contents must pass thru the joker valve on their way to the holding tank.

Howz'at work, you might ask?  Well, if I squeeze the valve a little, you can see how the lips open - you are looking here at the discharge end of the valve.  Yup, everything that goes in the bowl has to go thru there.

Now, joker valves do not last forever.  To work properly, after the lips have been forced open by passing fluid or solids, they need to spring back closed to prevent backflow.  And over time, the lips lose the ability to do this.  And so the valve must be changed out.  The ones in our heads have been in there for 2 years, and their time is up - after use, the bowls slowly fill up with the stuff that has most recently been pumped out.  Yeah, not pleasant.  Today I will replace them both.

Top to bottom:
Jabsco, Raritan, Groco
But here is where it becomes interesting - Eolian is part of a science project!  Not all joker valves are created equal.  Drew, over at Sail Delmarva, is running a project comparing different joker valve materials, and thanks to Drew, Eolian is participating as a real-world control.

To the left are three different joker valves, showing two different designs and three different materials of construction.  Our heads were made by Jabsco and so we already have a data point for the upper valve - it was what came with the heads, and lasted for about two years.

Today, I installed the Raritan valve in the aft head and the Groco valve in the forward head.  We'll see how they do over the next couple of years or so.

And here's what a joker valve looks like when coming out of service - it's easy to see why this one doesn't work any more...


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dental Wednesday

Today was a day that the dental profession will surely record.

Since Sunday nite, I had been having increasing pain in the lower left jaw.  So on Monday I went in to my regular dentist for a look-see.  Well, between us (of course I was a willing participant!), we were unable to localize the pain to a particular tooth.  So she sent me to a specialist.

First available appointment:  Wednesday morning.

I'm not going to talk about Tuesday.  I made it thru, but it was ugly.  Really ugly.

This morning we were at the endodontist's office before 08:00, eagerly waiting for them to unlock the door (well, certainly I was eager).  A few tests, and the experts had located the problem and administered the Novocain for the work to begin.  And for the first time in days, the pain was gone.  Just... gone.  Oh, blessed relief!  I had not realized how much I had been hurting, even in the "calm" periods, until the pain was gone.  "Better living thru chemistry" used to be DuPont's corporate slogan, back before "chemical" became a four-letter word.  But let me tell you, I am a Believer!

So Dr. Colic and his assistant Linda went to work,  and 60 minutes and 3 root canals in one tooth later, the deed was complete.  I now have one more dead tooth in my mouth.  But don't feel bad.  You know what's great about a dead tooth?  It can never hurt again.  Not from a cavity, not from drilling, not from cleaning.  In a perverse way, I wish all my teeth were dead.  In fact, I think it is a design flaw to have nerves in teeth (one of several design flaws in the human body that I would correct, if I had the power to do so).

Just enough time to grab lunch and a brief recuperation period, then back to my regular dentist for more dental joy: a regularly scheduled cleaning/scraping session.  And more Novocain.

I'm home now, back aboard Eolian.  My credit card is smoking.  But I have a beer in my hand, and by far most importantly, I don't hurt.

And as my friend Ken at work says, it could have been worse.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A sixty foot tree

(From 2010, when the lites were new)
Every year, the Marina sponsors a Christmas lighting contest. This year, we put up our 125' strand of deep blue LED's (2 - 50' strands and 1 - 25' strand) as usual, running from the bowsprit, to the top of the mainmast, roughly paralleling the triatic stay to the top of the mizzenmast, and then down to the end of the mizzen boom. But this year, the winds have been horrific. At this moment, we have one segment (however many LED's it takes to add up to 120 volts) that is just plain out and two more segments that drift in and out of illumination, depending on wind and rain.

But it is this Christmas tree over on F dock that should win the prize. It's hard enough getting our simple display of lites up - I wonder how he does it?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Drama on the dock

Monday was a blustery morning, wind 20+ kt, cold, and spitting rain.  I think you can imagine it.  And it was this morning when our neighbor, s/v Wander Bird, prepared to pull out of our shared horseshoe to head to the yard for work.  Now, Wander Bird is a tall boat - she is a Nauticat 52 - lots of wind area.  That will be important in a minute.

Ever the prudent mariner, Ethan shifted into forward and reverse while still tied up, to ensure that all was in working order.  When all was ready, he started to back out of the slip.  I had the bow line, to keep the bow from blowing downwind (and incidentally, into Eolian).  It was a perfect departure, despite the contrary high wind.

And then out in the waterway between the docks, Ethan shifted into forward and gunned the engine to stop the backward progress and to turn the boat to go down the waterway.

Except that the gearshift linkage broke and she was still in reverse.

So the burst of throttle only served to increase her backward speed.  The helm was over in preparation for the forward turn down the waterway, so the net effect is that Wander Bird made a 180° turn stern-first, heading back to the dock.  Amazingly, Ethan coolly killed the engine and steered her so that she ran into the piling at the end of the finger pier instead of either of the two boats tied to that finger.  The inflatable dinghy on davits at Wander Bird's stern gave its all, acting as an exploding airbag to cushion the impact.  Kind of like a Mars lander - well, a 65,000 lb Mars lander.

I had been walking back to Eolian after the successful departure when the commotion started.  I turned around and ran to the end of the finger pier, arriving just after the impact.  And now the wind really began to make itself felt.  It blew the bow down, laying Wander Bird across that piling at the end of the finger pier and the piling at the end of the next finger pier, pinning her there.  I got on the swim platform of one of the boats to fend off.  For the moment, things were sort of stable, and we discussed what to do next.

Ethan decided that the best action would be to go bow-in to the empty slip next to the boat I was on - all we'd need to do would be to back up Wander Bird (upwind!) 4 or 5 feet, and the bow would blow into the slip.  The trick would be to get enough of the boat into the slip by the time that she was parallel to the finger so that the wind wouldn't pivot her on the end of the finger and swing her back out into the waterway again.

Long story short: we made it.   And then they got a mechanic aboard to fix the linkage, at least temporarily.  And today Wander Bird is in the yard, as planned...  with one more item on the list, I think.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Crowdsourcing marine data

From Wikipedia, the fount of all human knowledge:
Crowdsourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people. This process can occur both online and offline.[1] The difference between crowdsourcing and ordinary outsourcing is that a task or problem is outsourced to an undefined public rather than a specific body, such as paid employees.
Most marine charts show depths that were laboriously determined, manually, a long time ago.  And given the tight situation of today's economics, it is unlikely that there will be any significant updates to those depth readings, ever.

How many boats do you suppose are out there with all the instrumentation required to collect detailed soundings:  integrated GPS/Depth Sounders?  A LOT!  Now imagine a small Wifi device that allowed those boats to report their current GPS location, tidal state at the nearest tide station, and the instantaneous depth reading...   Every boat that is out there could be reporting depth, in detail, and each reading shown on a chart would be an average of tens, hundreds or thousands of individual readings made by fellow mariners.  And given that the government services that collected those original soundings had different objectives than, say, the guy in a 16' aluminum fishing skiff, those areas on the charts that are shown a uniform blue with little information would be filled in with exquisite detail.

This is not a pipe dream.  The Argus project is collecting those readings, right now, at this very moment!

Sadly for us West Coasters tho, the project only covers portions of the East Coast so far.  It will be some time before those sandbars behind Bainbridge Island get replotted.

Another potential crowdsourcing project that would be of interest to mariners was recently proposed by our local Seattle weather blogger, Cliff Mass.  Cliff suggests that since many smart phones contain atmospheric pressure sensors, it would be possible to get high resolution atmospheric pressure data thru crowdsourcing.  With this new information, much better weather prediction would be possible. Here in Seattle, with our varied and detailed micro-climates, this could have some real tangible marine benefits.  Sadly, my iPhone is not equipped with a pressure sensor, so I cannot participate.

Any other ideas?  (And to you UW Oceanography readers out there - anyone interested in spearheading the ARGUS project in the Puget Sound area?)

If the idea of crowdsourcing intrigues you, Wikipedia maintains a list of crowdsourcing projects that are currently underway.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

74 mph. Under sail. On water.

You gotta see this:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Singing the praises of aluminum tape

What keeps a tape from being permanent?  Two things:
  • The substrate does not survive contact with moisture or sunlight
  • The adhesive fails, usually due to exposure to sunlight, and dries out or crumbles
That should tell you why I like the aluminum tape you can buy at big-box home supply stores like Lowes or Home Depot. 

Look for it in the insulation aisle

The substrate is actually metal - it's aluminum - thin enough to stretch a little and to easily conform to almost any shape.  And because it is metal, no sunlight - zero sunlight - penetrates the substrate to attack the adhesive.  The metal is polished and apparently anodized - it survives years of exposure to sea air without a blemish.

And the acrylic adhesive they put on this tape is some of the most aggressive I have seen. And because it is protected, it is as easy to remove tape that has been in place for years as it is to remove newly-applied tape - the adhesive does not get hard.

Here are a couple of examples where this marvelous stuff is in use on Eolian:

  • Sealing the top of the mast boot. The tape adheres tenaciously to the mast, forming a permanent water-tite seal, and it conforms nicely in the task of overlapping the mast boot fabric. The hose clamp  serves to mechanically hold the boot in place - not to create a seal.
  • Sealing the joint where the two ends of the extrusion come together on our windows. When they came from the factory, there was an internal seal, but I had to destroy this to replace the glazing. The tape is a permanent cover for the joint.
  • Protecting the PVC used to make the new wind vane


Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am thankful

I am thankful that our whole family could be together for Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Today there was a most important convergence: It was not raining, and I was home while it was light. So I took another look at the mast boot.

Having given up on everything else, I cut a new one. Because I had the old one, I didn't have to go thru the patterning exercise - I just traced the old one onto the Naugahyde and cut it out. But first, of course, I had to pull the old one. It was instructive.

Here's the inside of the old one, showing clearly where water had been coming in. (Because of the way I laid it out in the cockpit, that's the bottom of the boot at the top of the picture.)  There are a couple of (dried) streams to the left in the picture, and one gigantic wet stream to the right of center in the picture.  When it was installed, this was at the back, where the sail track is on the mast - a tough place to seal.

The smoking gun
And look what I saw when I turned up the edge and looked closely at the boot where it went over the track.  Yep, the vinyl coating on the fabric had cracked, twice.

Some interesting gel-life growing inside the old boot

Looks like someone is running a hose
on the deck above, doesn't it?

And wouldn't you know?  Mother Nature delivers a test storm not long after I get the new boot installed.  Perfect timing... and it's not just any storm - in fact it is a deluge of Biblical proportions - any minute now I expect to see pairs of animals lining  up out there on the dock.  It's been going on now for 24 hours, and there is no end in sight.

So far?  One drop. 


Update #2:

Sunny and dry today (but cold).  This allowed me to inspect the new mast boot more closely than I was able to during and immediately after installation.  What I found was incomplete adhesion of the polysulphide I had used to seal the seam where the ends overlapped on the boot.

Drop explained.

And fixed.  (Replaced the polysulphide with 3M 5200.)

Previous post in this series.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gotcha - got me.

Sorry - I hit the wrong button.

This post is scheduled to appear Wednesday morning.


Monday, November 19, 2012

More meat mania

We continue to work our way thru the Low and Slow book - we're now at Lesson 4 out of 5.  And I have to say that not only have we passed all the quizzes, we've aced the lessons.  But each chapter has a long list of exercises left up to the student - things we will go back and investigate once we have made it thru all five lessons.  There is a lot of culinary exploration in those exercises!

Lesson 4 is Spare Ribs - more difficult than Baby Back Ribs because the meat is tougher and must therefore be cooked longer.  Here you see three gigantic racks of ribs just as they were when I put them in the smoker.  Each has been rinsed with vinegar, slathered with yellow mustard, and heavily annointed with a special rub (the mustard serves mostly as glue to keep the rub in place).  I purposely left the red Solo cup (yes, adult beverage from my kegerator) in the picture to give some scale.  Those are huge slabs of meat.

And here are those same slabs of meat after spending five hours in the smoker.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Are they delicious!  I couldn't take the same picture of them, on the grill in the smoker, because it was dark by the time they were done.

I'll point out that, tho we tried mightily, Jane and I were only able to polish off one half of one of the racks.  Our freezer is is getting full of smoked meat. 

What a terrible problem...

We're having everybody and their dogs up to the cabin for Thanksgiving, so we will be doing smoked ribs for the Friday dinner (no, I don't trust myself to do a turkey... yet.)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It was grey, with lowering clouds this morning when Jane and I walked down the ramp to G Dock.  But it was one of those rare times in this season when there was no wind and Puget Sound was calm.  There was some light mist in the air from those low clouds, adding depth to the view across the Sound.  The sandy hook at Point Monroe was visible - it was a picture in shades of grey.

And we both agreed that it would be absolutely wonderful to be resting at anchor in Port Madison this afternoon.  And then we were both silent as we walked the 1000 feet out to Eolian, absorbed in our imaginations.

It was a compelling vision.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The changing of the beverages

It's currently 43° out there, and raining.

This is not the kind of day where you think to yourself, "Boy, a nice cold beer would be refreshing right about now."  No siree.

Like all the other changes that happen when the days get short and the sun rides low in the sky, beverage choices change too.  This season calls for:
  • Hot mulled wine
  • Hot spiced cider (perhaps with a little Captain Morgan's? )
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Hot buttered rum (is that a hot toddy?)
  • Jack on the rocks (pure antifreeze)
Any other favorites out there?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Unmistakable signs

Humans evolved on this planet.

One inevitable consequence of this is a that we each have several internal clocks, timed to the rhythms of the Earth:
  • Daily
  • Monthly
  • Seasonal
Yes, we do have internal clocks that tick over with the seasons.  How else to explain that we inherently know when summer is over.  We think we are superior, above all that, but we are no different than the trees that shed their leaves even before the first frost because, well because it is just time

Instead of dropping leaves, people living aboard flag the end of season in different ways:
  • Dock lines get doubled up
  • Extra fenders get hung
  • If the boat has full canvas, the whole enclosure is put up and zipped tight
  • Whole-boat canvas covers appear
  • Sails may disappear into storage
  • Dinghies get picked up and stored out of the water in various ways
  • Long neglected, once again, attention returns to deck leaks, and solving them
  • We never see our neighbors - there is no one sitting on their bow or stern (perhaps with an adult beverage) to say "Hi" to or to get a quick update on their status - where were they last weekend, where are they going the coming weekend, what projects are they working on.   Instead people walk down the dock, huddled against the rain and cold and and waste no time in getting down below into their own little bubbles of warmth and light.  
And on Eolian, perhaps the last leaf to fall is the disappearance of my ratty $15 commuter bicycle into storage.

When it goes, winter is surely close at hand.

It goes this weekend.


Monday, November 5, 2012

The resurrection plant

I must confess.

While Jane was back in Indiana for a month with her mother, I may not have been the most reliable plant-sitter.  More than once, Jane's sink-side basil nursery came to look like this (or worse...) when I forgot to keep the water level up.

But weak as basil is outside here in the PNW, it is simply amazing in a beer glass by the sink.  Each time it looked like it had passed into that green jungle in the sky, simply providing it with water resurrected it completely, in all of its spicy glory.  When Jane returned, she was blissfully unaware of my horticultural incompetence.

But I am smiling with relief.  I was not on plant-sitting duty this weekend.   


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No, not yet

A river of moisture flows into the
PNW from the tropics
Tho it is not of hurricane Sandy proportions, we here in Seattle have been experiencing a virtual deluge for the past two days.  In just a few days, we have made up for all the missing moisture that our record dry summer and fall shorted us. 

As a test of the sealing of Eolian's mast at the partners, it is excellent.  Sadly, it shows that tho I have significantly decreased the incoming water, I have not found all the problems yet.

So now I have to wait for the rains to stop (again) before I can explore more alternatives.

Previous post in this series
Next post in this series


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Bounty is gone

Sunday nite, the tall ship Bounty sank in hurricane-whipped seas about 90 miles off Cape Hatteras.  Fourteen of the sixteen people aboard have been rescued.  Apparently 13 of the crew had made it to life rafts when the remaining 3 were washed off the deck.  One of those three made it to a life raft.  Reportedly all of the crew had donned survival suits with strobes, so there is still hope for the missing two crew members.  The search continues, but in the very difficult conditions created by hurricane Sandy.

Our prayers go out to the crew of Bounty and their families - especially to the families of the two missing crew.  But a nagging question remains...  with today's weather predictions and weather information, why did the Captain of the Bounty put her off of the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" in a hurricane?

Bounty appeared in several motion pictures, including the original "Mutiny on the Bounty" starring Marlon Brando.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Heat pump installation: final step

No job is done until the documentation is done, right? The final step in the project, long overdue: a proper label on the power panel for the heat pump...

It doesn't quite match the style of the Marinetics labels, but Marinetics didn't have one with the right legend, and in any case I think they may now be out of business.  It is a whole lot more professional-looking than the Dymo label I had temporarily applied.

By the way, did you know that you can buy Blue Sea labels individually?  For $1?  And that you can even get custom labels made?  Check it out here.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Low & slow

Smoking meat is all about 'low & slow' - cooking at a low temperature for a long time.   You can kind of think of it as roasting meat at 225° - 275° in a smoky atmosphere.   It's not a process that is for the impatient.  And also like sailing, the journey to smoky goodness is a part of the enjoyment.  (There - I worked in a sailing reference, making this a legitimate post for this blog.)

3 chickens on their way to a smoky Nirvana

For my birthday, I received a smoker.  No, let me rephrase that. For my birthday, I received permission to buy a smoker.  I chose the one above: an offset type.  This means that the firebox is in a separate chamber from the cooking meat, rather than being directly below the meat.  I like the design because of the separation of function, and because of the large cooking surface - 36" x 18".  However the large size means more external surface to keep hot, so this smoker burns more charcoal than the more compact smokers, tho I'm not sure that would be true on a per-pound-of-meat basis if I always ran it with a full load.

And here is the result of the effort depicted above:  6 chicken halves, deliriously, deliciously smoky.  Done properly, the taste is smoky, not acrid.  And the flavor goes the whole depth of the meat; it's not just on the surface.  Have you ever been in the South and stopped at a roadside BBQ joint?  Yeah, that good.

They were smoked with alder wood - alder grows like a weed around here, and if you have any, you know that eventually the stems get big enough to just fall over.  So we have lots to use for smoking.

ISBN: 978-0-7624-3609-5

Even tho this post is tagged with 'recipe', I'm not going to post a recipe here.  Instead, I am going to exhort you to get a copy of what I now am calling the 'Smoker's Bible'.  Truly everything you will need to know is in there.  I started from scratch and followed the directions in the book (the chicken was Lesson 2) and the results have been unbelievably good.  Really.

With the book, you can too.

So get smokin'!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Barking up the right tree?

Over the years that I have chased deck leaks, I have learned one thing: before I tackle a major rebedding project, I try to find out if I am barking up the right tree. That means that I should find a way to make an easy, tho likely temporary, seal in the suspected area before tackling a full-on rebedding.

That diagnostic temporary seal has taken many forms over the years, tho most frequently it has been blue tape.  In approaching the possibility that my mast leak is actually between the deck ring and the deck, I had another option.  Earlier attempts at sealing the top of the boot required me to peel off the 1" wide "self-bonding" silicone tape (in quotes because it really didn't do it all that well).

I had saved that tape, intending to reapply it later.  But it was a perfect medium for creating a diagnostic seal at the base of the mast boot.  I removed the base hose clamp, and formed the tape so that it went up over the boot and ring, and then splayed out on the deck, creating a skirt around the deck ring.  (It's kind of hard to see in the picture above, but the two ends of the tape are directly beneath the hose clamp screw.)  Re-attaching the hose clamp completed the diagnostic seal.  Total time invested: 5 minutes.

This is not a permanent seal.  Nor is it really waterproof - water can likely sneak under the skirt.  But the skirt should serve to divert 90+% of the water coming down the outside of the mast away from the area between the deck ring and the deck.  If the water flow down the mast inside shows a significant decrease at the next rainstorm, I've nailed the location, and I need to get out the polysulphide.  If not, well then it is time for re-thinking.  And the blue tape.

Such is life aboard.

Next post in this series


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The saga continues

Any boat has deck leaks.

Every boat has deck leaks.

Any boat that doesn't currently have deck leaks, is just between leaks.

For the past several years, Eolian has been leak free.  But not now.  All my efforts to date to seal the deck penetration where the mast goes thru have been to no avail.  And now that it gets dark so early, it is not possible for me to carefully examine things when I get home from work.  The examination needs to be careful and detailed.  Because an amazing amount of water can come in thru the tiniest of holes.

To date, I have been focusing on the joint between the mast boot and the mast.  At the next opportunity (Friday morning, if it isn't raining) I will redirect my efforts to the deck ring where the bottom of the boot attaches.  I will pull up the bottom of the mast boot and check to see if the deck ring itself is serving as the entry point.

That's the plan.

If it doesn't rain.

Life on a boat is like this.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oh no!

Just when I was feeling all smug and superior, here comes a drop of water down the mast.

Now I will have to wait until the rain stops to investigate why the seal isn't working.  And who knows when that will happen...

Friday, October 12, 2012

So far, so good

This morning, summer is officially over in Seattle.  It's raining here, really raining, for the first time since... I don't know when.  And the forecast shows rain for the foreseeable future.  And now is the season when all of us living on boats get to find out whether we have successfully dealt with our deck leaks.

While knocking on a piece of nearby teak, I can say that the changes I made to our mast boot have worked.  The mast is dry inside the cabin.

So far.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Limbo, again

Once again I am a citizen of Limboland, that nation of people on the far side of the terrahertz scanners, but this time Jane is with me.

We will spend this afternoon re-tracing the path that the settlers traveled: the Oregon Trail. For us, it will be an afternoon. For the settlers it was a season-long trip, much of it taken on foot. It was dangerous; those were brave people.

Thinking about this while I look down on the endless miles they trudged keeps me from whining about the seat spacing.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


I apologize for the inconvenience it causes everybody (including me), but I have had to turn on comment moderation. We can all thank one anti-social individual for this - one who seems to be fixated on using one, just one, of my posts as THE vehicle for advertising his products. I'd name him and his products, but I don't want to give him any additional attention.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Denver thoughts

On my way to Indianapolis, I am laid over here in Denver.

For me, airports are, well I guess the word is "interesting".

First, at an airport you are kind of in a state of limbo. So, I am in the Denver airport, but I am clearly not in Denver.  I am in "Denver", but not in Denver. I am nowhere.

Second, you share this suspended status with lots of other folks - the shared experience takes down some of the normally present barriers. So you might, for example, find yourself in a conversation with someone you don't know at all - a complete stranger.

Next, I find myself scanning faces - you never know who you might see... Someone you know who lives in Denver, or someone who is, like you, in suspension on the way to somewhere else.

Finally, when traveling alone (as I am today), I slip into a different kind of awareness. I move slightly outside myself. I know people who spend a lot of time in this state, and farther into it. Perhaps for them, it is so commonplace as to unremarkable. But for me it is enjoyably novel

Now please excuse me while I go back to scanning faces.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Family hiatus

To me, with our continuing great weather, winter seems a long way off still (or maybe that's just wishful thinking).  Nevertheless, because I will be away from the dock for a while, I have prepped Eolian for the next season.  I have our winter fenders installed (+3 fenders), and all of our docklines are doubled up (+4 lines).  Maybe being ready will hold off the first winter storm...

For the next week I will be travelling all over the midwest visiting family.  So life aboard Eolian will be taking a backseat for a while, tho life certainly will not!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Sunrise rainbow at Shilshole

And the giving continues...

A special treat this morning, a sunrise rainbow. It's pink, because the dawn light is pink.

What you can't see is that exactly opposite to the rainbow, the sun had some low-lying fog illuminated with pinkish-golden lite.

What a gorgeous morning!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It just keeps giving

It's a summer that just keeps on giving.  Here we are at the end of September.  It is late,

with the moon rising over the boom, and yet it is still warm and comfortable - enough so that I have not yet closed up the boat for the nite. 

It is calm and quiet in the marina.  The water is a perfect sheet of black glass.  It is a magical evening.

I feel so very blessed to be able to live like this.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Seems easy, right?

 I mean, how hard could it be to keep rain water from running down the mast and into the cabin?  You make a mast boot, and seal it to the mast - probably using one of those jumbo-sized hose clamps as the final measure.  No leaks, right?

(BTW, being able to take this picture with the huge range of brightness between the sun-drenched mast outside and the shadowed mast inside is provided by a function called 'High Dynamic Range', part of the free - or was it 99¢? - iPhone app 'Top Camera' - I recommend the app for this capability as well as many others.)

Well, no. Despite all the measures, a recent rain revealed that I still have work to do here.

The picture is a little vague, but if you squint, you'll see those brown marks that show where water has snuck past the seal somewhere and run down the mast.  The brown stain is coloration leached from the teak wedges which hold the mast in position at the partners.

So I disassembled the seal I had built before.  Here's what I found:
  • First, the silicone tape, tho it had bonded very well with the hose clamp, had not bonded well to the mast
  • Next, because of the poor seal of the silicone tape, the long duration 3M tape underneath had turned to water-saturated mush.
After removing both, I applied a wrap of adhesive-backed aluminum foil (sold for sealing duct work) over the joint between the boot and the mast.  The thinking here is that the aluminum tape will not turn into mush on contact with water.

Finally, I re-applied the silicone tape, because it looks better.  (I hope I don't regret the decision to do this.  I am concerned about the paint bubbling up where moisture was trapped.  We'll see.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

(not) Marine stores: Ballard Hardware

A while ago, I needed a street el.

No, this is not some kind of elevated train, you folks in Chicago.  A street el is a standard pipe elbow, but with one difference:  one side is male and one side is female.  You'd use one of these in order to eliminate a fitting, and to shorten up the completed assembly.  They are not as common as the common umm..  el.  But in a good hardware store you can usually find one.  Possibly even in the size you need.

But now it becomes difficult:  I needed a stainless steel street el, in order to hook up the water discharge from our new stainless steel exhaust manifold.

Where to go to find one?

I love living in Ballard!  Before it becomes completely gentrified, you can find just about anything marine-related you want (except not swaged wires or LeFiell mast fittings any more - University Swaging is now gone).

If you haven't tried it, you need to:  Ballard Hardware.  It's kind of like a regular hardware store, except they know marine stuff, and its on steroids.  Two examples:

Example 1:  The previous owner of Eolian set up a snubber for the anchor chain - a length of 3/4" line attached to the hull where the bobstay attaches, with a 3/8" chain grab hook on the other end to hook on the anchor chain.  When you hook it up and let out the rode until the snubber is taking the strain, the chain hangs slack at the bowsprit, a wonderful thing for peace and quiet at nite when your are trying to sleep down below at anchor in a blow.

But I digress.

The grab hook the original owner installed was galvanized, and was, by the time we took over caring for Eolian, severely corroded.  I looked high and low, trying to find a stainless version of the grab hook.  And then on a whim, I tried Ballard Hardware.  Sure they had one.  $15.  If West Marine sold them (and they don't), it would be for $65.95.  Wow.  I was an immediate convert.

Example 2:  Not being a slow learner, when I needed that stainless street elbow, I went straight to Ballard Hardware.  "Sure, no problem, " said the counter man.  And he took me back to the rabbit warren (yeah, it's still there, even tho there is a fancy new front end).  "What alloy do you want?"


Not only was I going to be able to get a street el, in the size that I wanted, in stainless, but I was presented with a choice of alloys!

Yeah.  Ballard Hardware.

Monday, September 17, 2012


imag·i·na·tion: n.  \i-ˌma-jə-ˈnā-shən\  The ability to look at a pile of shop scraps, and see a battleship.

Credit for this imaginative bit of naval architecture goes to Zak, who lives on s/v Ghost, across the dock from us. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What are *you* doing on a Saturday morning?

Living on a boat doesn't mean release from domesticity - this morning I am washing dishes.

I had to - I was out of coffee cups

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