Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nano-tech super hydrophobia

Saw this amazing stuff over on Rhys' blog The World Encompassed:

Has any of you thousands hundreds 4 readers out there used it on a boat?  Say, on canvas or Sunbrella?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Best small sailboat for Puget Sound

A reader recently visited this blog because it showed up in the search results for "best small sailboat for Puget Sound".  Sadly, the reader did not contact me :( 

Dear Reader, please imagine that you had contacted me, and that consequently we are sitting in Eolian's cockpit on a warm spring afternoon, sipping beers.  Here's what I would say:
I'm sorry but I cannot answer your question without a lot more information.

First, you ask for the best small sailboat...  what is your definition of "small"?
  • Do you have a particular size in mind?  How did you settle on this size?
  • Are you looking at a particular price ceiling?  What is it?  
  • Are you looking for a new boat?  A used boat?  Why?  Are you willing to do a little work on the boat?  (You had better say "yes" to this question - whether new or old, boats all require work...)
  • "Small boat" could imply trailerable.  If this is what you have in mind, do you have a rig capable of pulling the boat (Accords and Camrys need not apply)?  Do you have a place to store the boat when out of the water?  The disadvantage of a trailerable boat is that a fair amount of time (roughly an hour) needs to be spent rigging the mast and transferring everything from the towing rig to the boat before use.  But it does enlarge your cruising grounds considerably - The San Juans are close when you are traveling at 65 mph.
Next, what is it you see yourself doing with the boat?
  • Racing?
  • Day sailing?  Where?  
  • Cruising?  Do you want to overnight on the boat? 
Does the simplicity of sail power appeal to you? Or do you enjoy all the bells and whistles?

Will your boat have a motor?
  • Outboard or inboard?
  • Gas or diesel?
Finally, what do you mean by "Puget Sound"?  Are you talking about:
  • Day sailing on Lake Union?
  • Lake Washington?
  • The Sound itself, above the Tacoma Narrows?
  • The South Sound?
  • The San Juans? 
And the items are interrelated too.  The price of the boat is going to directly reflect its condition (are you willing to work on it?), the included gear and systems (simple or complex?) and intended use (day sailor, cruiser, racer).  Trailerable boats will not need moorage, thus saving that cost, but at a cost of time required to rig and derig at each use.  And you will have to pay for, license and maintain the trailer.

And now that you have answered, "Well, all of them!" to some of those questions, then I must say that you have some further contemplation before you are ready to make a purchase.  No boat is going to be good at racing, cruising and day sailing, for example.  You really do need to prioritize things.  A boat that tries to be all things does none of them well.
And now that we're done with that second (third?) beer, I'd tell you to go look at boats. Look at lots of boats. Look at boats that are in your parameters, and boats that are not.  The seller (whether broker or private) wants to show you their boats - take advantage of that. Sit aboard and imagine yourself under sail.  Feed the dream.

Come back again when you have done that - we'll have a lot more decisive conversation then.  And more beer.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not A bad decision... A SERIES of bad decisions

Bounty awash
Some of you may remember a short post I made a while back concerning the loss of the tall ship Bounty.

The question I asked in that post, "... why did the Captain of the Bounty put her off of the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" in a hurricane?" still remains.  But now it is at least partially answered.  Of course, since Captain Walbridge went down with the ship, we will never know the entire story.

I recently ran across this account of the Coast Guard inquiry into the sinking.  It reveals that the decision to go to sea in the face of the hurricane was not only a bad decision, but one of many bad decisions that led to the sinking.  Amazingly, it was not even the final bad decision.

I have a friend who is involved in the Tall Ship scene on the East Coast.  When the Bounty sank, I commiserated with him.  His surprising response was that she was a movie prop that was to be burned and sunk after the filming was over. He said that the one time he saw her, she was being kept afloat with her bilge pumps, and she had two of three of them running continuously.  Given the testimony at the inquest, I'd have to say that the loss may not have been a surprise to those in the know.

Read the account.  It is sobering.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Wire strippers

A little while back, Drew posted an article on crimpers.  As usual, any article about tools featuring one I don't have sets me off in a bout of tool envy.  Like as not, it will cause adamant rationalization, and finally result in a trip to a place that sells the tool in question.

Drew's article is no exception.  I have been doing my crimping with a pair of pliers-type crimpers that I bought more than 30 years ago to crimp the 10-gauge 220V power terminals on a submersible well pump that would be installed 100+ feet below the water surface.  Now I'm gonna have to make that trip to the tool store.

But turnabout is fair play.

I noticed in Drew's article that he uses a pair of those stamped sheet metal wire strippers.  Like the pliers-type crimpers, these are OK, but there's a better tool choice:

These things are just wonderful.  They:
  • Strip any common-sized wire
  • Self-adjust to the wire size and insulation thickness
  • Require only one hand for operation (great in tight spaces)
  • Produce repeatable strip lengths

To use is simplicity itself.  First, set the little red stop to produce the strip length you require.  Insert the wire:

Squeeze the handles, and voilĂ !  The wire is stripped to the desired length without nicking the conductor.

No tool is perfect.  Here are a few caveats to go with this one:
  • I'd say the upper size limit for this is probably 10 gauge wire, maybe 8 gauge if the insulation is thin
  • With very light gauge wire (28 gauge), sometimes one of the conductor strands departs with the stripped insulation
  • If you are stripping nylon-coated wire (TFFN/THHN), you will likely have to strip it once for the nylon coating and once for the insulation.
Now get thee to a tool store!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Missed marketing opportunity

I was going to start this post with an image of a spot bandage that was a smiley face.  Guess what I couldn't find?  Spot bandages that are smiley faces. 

But to the point:  Monday's operation was a success.  I am at home and getting around OK, albeit carefully.  I am very much on a pain medication regime, which means that coherency is not a strong point right now.  But the pain meds are working.

Just wanted to let you all know that all is well and as expected, and that I will be rejoining the bloggosphere - just don't know when yet.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Out of it

When you read this, I will likely be unconscious, thanks to modern anesthesiology - better living thru chemistry!  I am having a spinal fusion , adding L3 to my already fused L4/L5.

Since responsible bloggers don't post whilst on morphine and oxycodone, this space will be strangely quiet for a week or two.

But don't change that dial - Windborne will be back!
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