Monday, August 31, 2015

I Hate Yellowjackets

You're at a quiet anchorage in late summer. There is a slight breeze - just enough to keep you comfortably cool. Then you get out some food or drinks in the cockpit, or begin to bait a crab trap.

And then here they come.

From out of nowhere, you will find your boat surrounded by a buzzing horde of yellowjackets, come for the moisture, or more likely for the meat. Once the first scout gets back to the nest with the news of free eats, you are doomed.

We learned this trick in Canada at Ganges Harbor.  The Tree House Restaurant there has outdoor seating - it should be swarming with yellowjackets.  And one occasionally does fly by.  But you can eat outside in peace.  Why?

Because they have these brown paper bags inflated and hung all over.  Our waitress explained that the yellowjackets see the bags as paper wasp nests and stay away accordingly.  Maybe they are natural enemies?  I don't know.  But give it a try - it works!


Monday, August 24, 2015

More Room In The Cockpit

Eolian's cockpit is not large.  So, to make room for more than four adults, we used to take off the wheel and bungee it to the bimini frame.  Removing the wheel makes the cockpit seem twice as large!

But putting it over on the bimini frame risked rupturing the varnish at the bottom where it rested on the cockpit coaming, as well as where it contacted the frame.  And it was not very secure there, with the bungees.  So, what to do?

I bought a tee - one of those that is hinged; designed to be installed over an existing piece of tubing rather than sliding on from the end.  These have a screw that you tighten to finish the installation and hold it in place...  well, I replaced the screw with a thumbscrew that had a phenolic knob on it - this allows me to move and pivot the tee and then tighten it in place:

In stowed position - out of the way
Then I added a short piece of tubing to provide a surrogate axle for the wheel to rest on.  This is held to the tee, not with a set screw, but by drilling the tubing and thru-bolting it thru the set screw hole with a small bolt and nylock nut.  

Finally I drilled the end of the tubing to accept a Fastpin™ to keep the wheel from sliding off.

The Fastpin keeps the wheel in place

Look at all that space!

(I should have gotten the Brasso out before taking these pictures...)


Monday, August 17, 2015

Where is everybody?

AIS really is a wonderful thing.  With it, equipped ships periodically broadcast over VHF a digital burst of information including such things as their name, their heading, their speed, and a lot of other things.  All large ships are required to have AIS transceivers aboard, and many smaller ships and pleasure craft have them as well.

AIS does not replace RADAR; instead, it augments it, telling you not only what a ship has done, but what it is doing right now.  And it allows you to "see" ships that are not visible to RADAR due to terrain or even distance, as long as they are in VHF range.

And beyond this, NOAA has begun deploying both AIS-equipped aids to navigation, as well as "virtual" aids to navigation.  The latter are shore-based transmitters that broadcast a location and type as an aid to navigation in the proper place.  If you go there, you'll find nothing at all, but it will show on your AIS display.

So you know that Eolian had to have an AIS receiver.  I managed to get one in a trade for an old cell phone:

It's a tiny little thing

Temporary hookup; the "antenna" is just a length of coax
Even with virtually no antenna, this little gizmo was picking up nearby boats:

Eolian is the boat at the bottom of the display surrounded by the red circle - the guard zone I have set.  If a boat enters the guard zone, or will enter it in the next three minutes, the chartplotter issues an alarm.

So now I need to climb the mizzen mast and attach the coax to the abandoned VHF antenna up there - I knew it would prove useful some day...


Friday, August 14, 2015


All four of my regular readers have probably been wondering why there haven't been any updates here for a while.  There is more than one answer...

First, for a part of the time we were out in the San Juan Islands, and if you know the area, you know that there are a lot of places out there where there is no cell phone and no internet reception.  From the point of view of blogging, this was bad.  But for the soul, the interruption in the constant "right-now-ness" of the internet is a good thing.

Next, we went back east to Indiana for a family reunion.  It was a wonderful time where we got reacquainted with relatives from near and far, and spent time with Jane's 101 year old mother.

And finally, there was Dude Tour V, where a bunch of guys take their classic (mostly) cars on a 600-mile drive thru the twisties in the mountains:

Looks James Bond-esq, doesn't it?

This year, there were a total of 14 cars, most of them classics, including my 1968 GTO.

My car is the red GTO, second from the left in the back row

This is a part of almost every Dude Tour
So, now that things are a little more back to normal, I hope that this blog will return to more-or-less normal too.

See you soon...

Monday, August 3, 2015

For the Dreamers

From my friends' blog, in the process of selling their cat before heading really far south in a new-to-them expedition boat.  This is just a taste - check out the link for the whole description and specs...

2015 July 25
by Mike
While all of my recent posts have been focused on the new Amel, it’s important to remember that there is a very beautiful and well-maintained PDQ 32 for sale, just waiting for the right owner to start making memories on her!

People may not fully comprehend the benefits of purchasing a boat here in Grenada. In most cases, the trip south from the US to the Windward Islands can be a tough one. It typically involves a number of uncomfortable passages, beating against the easterly trades. They don’t call this route the Thorny Path for nothing! Whoever ends up with ZTC will not have to deal with that though. He or she will be able to start cruising in beautiful Grenada, gaining experience at a comfortable pace by sailing here, and in the nearby Grenadines. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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