Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hanging out in Anacortes

La Conner actually but nobody has ever heard of La Conner and a few people might recognize Anacortes.

You can almost see the bay through the trees behind the bus.  From inside the bus we can definitely see the tide coming and going.

Yesterday I walked down at low tide to watch a young Indian man digging clams.  We tried digging clams at White Rock when the kids were young but didn’t damage the clam population at all.  Now that I have seen somebody successfully digging them I think maybe I could actually find some myself.  I watched the Mexicans dragging for them in the surf at Las Glorias about 5 years ago but that system requires a little more equipment than I want to haul along with us.  The young fellow yesterday had a garden fork and some pails – that’s about the level of technology I had in mind.

Today the tide was still in when I walked down to the beach.  I’m hoping to encounter my young friend again later today in order to get us some fresh clams but in the interest of not confessing online to committing a felony I’m not going to say any more about that.  (on edit: after three trips to the beach I am still unable to locate my co-conspirator so we are both depressingly in compliance with the fish and game laws and there are no fresh clams for supper tonight)

This morning we drove into La Conner so I could mail Rockaway Beach their mordita.  Marilyn had bought some books on ebay and had them shipped here so we checked on them and sure enough they had arrived.  I had ordered some V-belts from NAPA and they were in as well.  All in all a pretty productive trip and I didn’t even mention the milk we bought.

We also spent about an hour looking at a 48’ Grand Banks that Dea had lined up for us.  This was still one of the wooden Grand Banks so we don’t think it is the boat for us but it had a lot going for it nevertheless.  I can’t count how many people have told me with a dead serious face “you’ll never find a standup engine room in a 50 foot vessel”.  Well this one was 48 feet and it has a standup engine room.  That’s really important to me for a couple of reasons.  First off it lets you get in there and do regular maintenance and second it becomes the workshop that I don’t have now.  Last week we looked at an Ocean Alexander Mark I which was a gorgeous vessel, much newer than the Grand Banks and two feet longer but I would have had to lie on my belly to service the engines.  On the Ocean Alexander I could see the generator but there wasn’t a hope in hell that I could get at it to do service.  On the Grand Banks I could get all around the genset.  I also had more or less adequate headroom throughout the Grand Banks which again is something I have been repeatedly told will be impossible to find.  Despite all those positives its still pretty much of a cocktail cruiser.  Right or wrong I’ve got a picture of what we need and it doesn’t have a great big flat transom or a high topheavy flybridge.

This has been a great location for getting a little bus maintenance finished off.  Some places are pretty anal about not wanting us to work on our rigs but here we are kind of isolated with nobody close beside us.  Obviously its still best to be considerate but so far I have changed out my starter, put in a bunch of rivets along the beltline and installed the new belts from NAPA.

For several years now I’ve felt that I should have a spare starter.  With a mechanical diesel engine if you have fuel and it turns over it should run.  We had an episode last summer where the solenoid failed on the starter.  Fortunately I was able to get it replaced and get us on the road the next day but I sure wished I had a spare when that happened.  Clifford Allen recommended a place in Seattle as a starter source so we drove in there earlier this week in conjunction with a trip to Everett to look at the Ocean Alexander.  The industrial area we had to go into was a major fustercluck with construction and map errors contributing to a very frustrating trip but we came home with a brand new Delco Remy 39TM for roughly half what I would have had to pay Quint’s terrorist friends. 

I bought rivets and backing washers in Las Vegas but didn’t dare try putting them in while we were there.  The Thousand Trails park in Las Vegas is a “parking lot type situation” in the words of Marilyn’s cousin.  I’d have been riveting literally underneath my neighbour’s window awnings so I thought it best to wait and it turned out we didn’t have weather or opportunity until we got here.  The body panels on this bus are somewhat structural.  When the converter replaced the original stainless with fibreglass he riveted it along the beltline and covered the rivet heads with body filler.  Over time as the coach flexes that filler has loosened and now we have paint blisters along the beltline wherever it is riveted.  I don’t know any easy way to cure that other than adding rivets and then covering them with a decorative moulding so the first step in that plan is putting in new rivets.  That’s done on the curbside now – as soon as the rain lets up I’ll get the driver’s side done.  My new Harbor Freight air rivet tool worked like a charm.

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