Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reflections on reflections

Way back in 2010, I wrote about the wonderful moving patterns that sunlight makes on the overhead when conditions are right.  One of the key words there is "moving".  At that time, I had no way to show the movement of the patterns... now I do.  Here are a couple of very short videos:

This morning, when I was making that second video, I first thought that the phenomenon could only occur in the morning or evening, when the sun angle is low.  (I know that it can't happen at the dock, because things are much too crowded for the sun to reach the water to reflect inside.)

But isn't it true that if the water is moving, there will almost always be a surface that is correctly oriented to reflect light onto the overhead?  I think it must be so.  So it should be possible to see the moving patterns at any time of day if there is sun, the boat is oriented more or less broadside to it, and the water is gently moving.

I think.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On one rainy day in Poulsbo...

Last Saturday, while anchored in Poulsbo on one of those cold, blustery days with intermittent rain, Jane and I decided to seek out a brewery whose wares we had sampled at the Winter Brewfest here in Seattle.

The Valhöll brewery is located at the very, very, very end of Liberty Bay.  It is within walking distance for old duffers, although most of the walk is uphill for some reason.  And it is a little hard to find, when you reach the location.  You'll have to go up behind the fancy building on the corner - it's there, trust me.  And it's worth the hike*.

When we arrived, the tasting room was closed because Jeff, owner and brewmeister, was about to make a delivery. But he welcomed us in anyway.  And while he did the paperwork for the delivery, he served us some of his tasty products and we had a rousing great conversation covering a host of subjects, not least of which was beer styles and brewing in general.

By the time our beers were gone, the rains had (not surprisingly) returned.  But Jeff came to our rescue and offered us a ride back into town, which we gratefully accepted.  See, he still had to make that delivery.

Now the last bit of serendipity was that the delivery was a special cask of Valhöll's Whiskey Barrel Stout, which was being delivered to Tizley's for a cask tasting party.  Everyone was invited, and of course we stuck around for it.  Arriving at the same time as the guest of honor and the beer got us great seats, by the window.

Tho this was a public event, there were lots of close friends and relatives. And Jeff, gregarious soul that he is, introduced us to all of them.

And the beer.

It was heaven in a glass.  Trust me - you never want to miss an opportunity to sample Valhöll's Whiskey Barrel Stout.  Or an opportunity to spend time with Jeff, for that matter.

It was a wonderful adventure, on a day which wouldn't seem to have much promise if we had spent it sitting and moping on the boat.

* Valhöll is in the process of moving their brewery.  Tho it is well worth the hike, soon that will be unnecessary, because their new location will be almost directly behind Tizley's.  Now you have no excuse whatsoever.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rain? So what.

Liberty Bay in the rain
One of the things you learn in Seattle is that if you wait for "perfect" weather to do something, you could wait a very, very long time. Better to get prepared, both physically and mentally, and then proceed regardless of the weather.

Boating certainly fits this bill. If you are going to wait for warm, sunny days to use your boat, well it could sit unused in the slip a lot. It is better to admit that no, Seattle is not located in southern California, and that the big open cockpit, so perfect for entertaining in the warm sunshine, is not going to be pleasant in the rain.

No, in reflection of the climate, the Northwest boat will be adapted differently. First, it will have a fully enclosed cockpit - because who wants to stand or sit in the cold rain (55° here in Seattle, on the afternoon of June 22) while boating?

Next, you will have heat in the cabin and it will not depend on shore power, so that you can be comfortable and cozy at anchor.

Finally, you will have equipped yourself with suitable foul weather gear and a sunny disposition, so that you can comfortably go out on the water, and enjoy the experience.

So here we are, at anchor in Poulsbo.  And we are warm and cozy down below.  We had a spectacular sail going across Puget Sound yesterday, spent a wonderful quiet nite in Manzanita Bay last nite, and we are looking forward to one of Tizley's famous breakfast Bloody Marys tomorrow.

Rain?  So what.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How to: Coil a line

There may be as many ways of coiling up a line for storage as there are sailors on the planet.

But the real pros at this were the old-time whalers - the ones who went out in the small boats with little more than a harpoon and a lot of line.  When they speared a whale and the beast took off, it was critical, no, crucial, that the coil of line in the front of the boat payed out cleanly - their lives depended on it.  For if it didn't, if the harpoon line suddenly turned into a giant Gordian knot as it payed out, the whalers in the boat were doomed.

So how did they store the line in the bow of their boats?  No, not as a coil.  For when a line is coiled into a stack of circular turns, it is necessary to put one twist in the line for each turn to make it lay flat.  When the line is then removed from the coil, those twists pile up and eventually collect into a huge mess of a knot.

Instead, the whalers flaked the line into the bows of the whale boats.  Flaking a line "coils" it without adding twists.  Here's how to do it in hand:

If one end of the line is fixed, start near that end.  Grasp the line in one hand and then with the other hand reach out a distance and grasp the line again.  The distance apart determines the size of the eventual flaked coil.  (If the distance is the full arm-spread of an adult male, it will be approximately 6 feet - the origin of the fathom, as useful now as it was then for quickly measuring the length of a line.)

Bring your hands together and transfer the line to the hand near the fixed end.  But here's the trick:  Do NOT add that twist which would be required to form a circle of the line.  Instead, resist that idea.  Done properly, instead of a circle, you'll have a figure 8 in your hand.

Repeat until you are near the end.  Since we are not going to attach the bitter end to a harpoon, we'll use it instead to secure the flaked coil so that it doesn't spill all over the place.

Still holding the coil in your left hand, pass a turn or two around it above the midpoint.

Next, make a loop on the free end and pass it thru the accumulated turns you are holding in your left hand.

Finally, pass the bitter end thru that loop and snug it up.

This secures the coil and keeps it from getting tangled, and it provides a nice tail to clove hitch to a nearby rail to store the line.

As an alternative, if you don't need the tail for hanging the line, you may pass that loop thru the accumulated turns in your hand, and then simply pull it down over the collection of turns, locking everything in place, like what was done with this length of shiny new line destined to become replacement docklines on Eolian.

Finally as another alternative which is particularly useful if you are coiling a line which will be hung from a cleat but which must be ready to release, skip making the turns around the coil and use up all the line in making figure 8's.  Now pass a loop from the standing end thru the coils in your left hand, give it a twist or two and then hang that loop from the upper horn of the cleat.

What all of these methods have in common is the use of figure 8 flaking instead of coiling the line in circles. (There is a way to coil a line into circles with every other turn going in the opposite direction so the twists cancel out, but that's a story for another time.) 

Figure 8's are your friend.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Project ST5000: Finis

The final step in the transition from our old Benmar 14 autopilot to the new ST5000+ was the creation of a place for Ray (yeah, I know it's the obvious name, but still) to live.  The old Benmar was installed in the cockpit coaming, mounted to a decrepitating wood box.  We had gotten used to that position, and in keeping with our desire to not turn Eolian's cockpit into a video game, I decided that the old location would suit.  But the old box had to go.

I bought a sheet of 1/2" UHMW polyethylene and cut the necessary pieces to make a replacement for the wood box.  To make it easier to view the display, I canted the actual autopilot mounting surface back at 20°.  Finally, since nothing sticks to UHMW, I screwed it together using 1" #6 stainless screws.

Ray's new home

Design was a little tricky. The space inside the coaming is not very much larger than the desired size of the new mount.  Thankfully I had the old wood box to use for setting dimensional constraints.  When it was completed, the moment of truth arrived:  Will I be able to get it into the space? 

Yup.  Just.  The 20° taper helped by making the bottom side of the box thinner.
Snug as a bug in a rug
This has been a fun project, but it has gone on for a long time, from inspiration to now.  And now I am finding that there is a gap in my thinking, a gap that used to be filled up with all the various kinds of problem-solving involved with the project.  It's a little unsettling.  But I am confident that another project will soon arise to fill it in.  It's a boat, after all.

Anyone need spare parts for a Benmar 14 autopilot?  I have a bunch...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The king is dead. Long live the king!

After our beloved Evinrude 2 hp outboard passed on, we had room for and admitted a new resident into the Eolian Sunset Hospice for Seasoned Outboards.

He is a Tanaka 3 hp (rebranded as a Sears Gamefisher), which makes him 50% more powerful than the Evinrude.  And about 600% stronger than the Evinrude was when last it breathed.

The outboards we choose to admit into the Hospice must be lightweights - because I leave them on the dinghy while hoisting it up on the davits - in fact the outboard lives on the dinghy full-time.  Our new resident weighs in at a sprightly 22 lb - not bad.

At this end of the weight scale, frills and amenities are not allowed - in particular that means we have never had a dinghy outboard with a transmission.  They have all been direct drive - that means that you must have the dinghy pointed in the direction you want to go when you pull the starter rope, because when the motor starts, you're off to the races!  The Tanaka is slightly different - it has a centrifugal clutch.  That is, until the engine RPM reaches a certain point, the engine is not connected to the prop.  Woo hoo!  We now have the civilized option of starting the motor, and then leaving, as two separate and independent steps.

It is also an air-cooled engine, which means there is no water pump to maintain (yea!).  But it also means it is noisier (boo) - in a water-cooled motor, that water jacket soaks up quite a bit of noise.  Jane says it is like having a chainsaw running on the stern of the dinghy.  There won't be any gas-powered wine cruises...  but I don't think that's going to be a problem.

The Tanaka will be receiving loving care (actually, more like loving neglect) here in the Hospice until it too passes on.  Hopefully, like its forebears,  not for a few years.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Walrus sighting!

Just off the stern of Eolian - there it is! 

Rare in Puget Sound, sightings of this shy and elusive creature seem to coincide with the spring and fall installations of new prop nut zincs, prop cleaning and speedometer impeller cleanings. Scientists have not yet determined why this creature seems to favor slip G-61.

If you missed this one, be sure to be prepared with your camera next fall...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A suitable waterborne pursuit

It's quiet.

It's soothing.

It doesn't require large tools or supplies that take up a lot of space... the tools are small and the supplies are soft and can fit almost anywhere.

It can be done down below, in the cockpit, or even in the dinghy.

The experienced practitioner can do it while enjoying the view, the sunshine, or the ambiance at anchor.  (But not while drinking wine - Jane has received more than one KUI.)

And really, when you think on it, a knitted sock is exactly a very complicated knot.  There should be no surprise therefore that many old salts in the age of sail knitted.

But the best part about knitting aboard is that the product keeps you warm.  Like the firewood you split yourself, it keeps you warm twice over - because it is made of luscious heavy wool, but more importantly because it is absolutely filled to the brim and overflowing with love.

That green sock that Jane is starting above is the first of a pair to replace a pair that I plumb wore out.  But never fear - I still have another pair of love socks, in a kind of rusty fall color. 

And I have a wonderful, heavy cable-knit fisherman's sweater that is just the thing to wear under foulies on a cold day when the temperature is in the 40's and the wind is howling.

Boy does it keep me warm.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Music to fall asleep by

Last nite, one of the absolute joys of living aboard was brought home to me. 

After a tough sail across Puget Sound in 30-35 kt winds, we anchored in the protection of Port Madison.  Then the relaxing began - we had a wonderful feta pasta dinner and split a bottle of wine.

And then just before bedtime, a gentle rain began.

Not a gulley washer, not a downpour - just a gentle rain.  And the sound of the drops pattering on the deck above us was music as we fell asleep.
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