Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunny day in Cow Bay

OK …………. it’s not completely blue sky and sunshine but it’s about as close as it gets out here.  You can see some blue in the sky and you can tell where the sun is.  For the left coast that qualifies as a sunny day.

It’s nice enough that I’m getting serious about getting the flybridge ready so we can operate from “up top”.  Over the weekend we opened up the bimini for the first time ever.  We had peeked inside the canvas cover, satisfied ourselves that the bimini was in there and agreed that it was likely unusable before we made an offer on the boat.  Since that time we had completely ignored its existence but on Saturday I opened it up and wonder of wonders it is actually usable.  I took it off and ran it through a wash cycle with a lot of bleach.  That reduced the size of most of the mildew spots.  Then I reinstalled it wet because we were afraid it would never stretch to fit if I dried it first.  Now that it has sat in the (rare) sunshine for a couple of days the mildew spots are fading further to the point where it looks generally white. 

There’s still a couple of issues with operating from the flybridge – one major and the rest more in the category of irritants.  I doubt that anyone has actually operated the boat from up there since Chuck sold her 13 years ago.  The dashboard that holds the instruments is a piece of 1/4’ used-to-be-plywood.  It will have to be replaced and I’m not looking forward to that project – many holes to saw and a lot of wires to unhook and re-hook.  The show stopper right now is the lack of a depth sounder.  There’s one up there but it doesn’t work and I can’t make it work despite my efforts in that regard.  Yesterday I phoned Waypoint Marine in Sidney and ordered a cheapo depth-only sounder.  Today I’ll drive over there to pick it up and then I’ll have to go through the contortions to run the cable from the engine room to the flybridge in order to hook it up.  Then we’ll probably use the flybridge until the instrument panel becomes such an annoyance that I finally get around to fixing it as well.

This week Marilyn has her first open water dive on Saturday, assuming she passes the test Wednesday night.  The dive is in Maple Bay and we are also booked to attend a dinner theatre cruise to Chemainus Saturday night.  I’ll probably take the boat to pick her up in Maple Bay and then we’ll carry on to Chemainus.  The dinner theatre is a yacht club event and they are also planning to anchor out in Montague Harbor on Friday night.  We’ll join them there  so we’ve got a busy weekend coming up.  The rest of the group will convoy from Montague to Chemainus but we’ll have to take a slight detour. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Smilin’ Jack exposed

I guess its not worthy of note to say that politicians occasionally say one thing and mean something else.  Nor in Canada is it noteworthy when a pol says something in Quebec and something else for English consumption.  But Smilin’ Jack is starting to slip in his own shit and it could cost us all a lot of money or perhaps the country as we know it. 

The federal NDP are used to saying whatever nonsense springs to their feeble minds because it really never mattered.  As the official opposition though people are starting to pay attention to the verbal diarrhea that pours out of Jack’s mouth and not surprisingly it doesn’t add up.  There’s better minds than mine writing about this subject but in a nutshell Jack’s Quebec lies come down to 2 specific items:

Inside Quebec Jack points to the NDP’s Sherbrooke declaration which states that the Quebec National Assembly has the sole authority to write any secession referendum question and that 50% plus one vote will be sufficient to pass that question. 

Outside Quebec Jack tries to profess that the NDP will adhere to the Supreme Court/Parliamentary Clarity Act.  Parliament passed the act following the last referendum in Quebec and then referred it directly to the Supreme Court for a judicial opinion.  That act will show up on a Google search but effectively it says that parliament needs to sign off on any referendum question and that the question will only pass with something more than 50% plus one – likely 60% but the Supremes left some wiggle room on that too based on the percent of the population that votes in the referendum.

I don’t think the average Quebecois really wants to leave Canada.  As long as I can remember Quebec has done pretty well by blackmailing the rest of us with the threat of separation.  It’s a dangerous game though when the leader of the official opposition fuels the separation fires with lying rhetoric. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Learning by watching

I didn’t get to watch all the sailpast boats leave and arrive.  We watched a few of the boats leaving and weren’t disappointed by the drama.  One in particular was at the end of a finger pier with 2 boats behind him.  The boat at the end wasn’t particularly big – maybe 35 feet – the ones behind were significantly bigger (and significantly more impatient).  Evidently the guy on the end was clueless about getting away from the dock because eventually it took the crew from both boats behind him to get him cast off.  Its not that hard – you untie the lines and leave, ideally with all crew members on the boat but it is surprising how many people have difficulty with the process.

I missed most of the dock-drama because I got invited to crew on “Small Fry”.  “Crew” is maybe overstating my duties a little bit because really all I did was watch Ira do all the work.  Small Fry is a wooden dory built somewhere on the coast maybe 60 years ago now and lovingly restored by Ira Rote.  She is powered by a single cylinder Easthope engine – the kind that goes chukka – chukka – chukka when its running.  We were sitting on the steps in front of the Empress watching the drama unfold in front of us when Ira appeared and asked me if I wanted to ride along on the sail past.  I’d stopped and watched him working on Small Fry earlier in the weekend so naturally I leaped at the chance to go along and I think – in all modesty – that we were one the highlights of if not the highlight of the show.  We sure got waved at by a lot of people, including the pilot of one of the many single otters that fly out of the harbour.  He slid open his window to take our picture then closed the window, pushed the throttles home and took off. 

Last night three big sailboats arrived in Cow Bay with a bunch of kids onboard.  They are part of some kind of sailing school or more likely a glorified teenage daycare system.  The kids wouldn’t have learned much from the docking maneuvers last night or from the departure this morning for that matter.  Ever since somebody first stuck an internal combustion engine in a boat and hung a prop on its shaft people have been docking and undocking boats under power.  Leaving aside for a minute that it is possible to dock a sailboat under sail, these guys didn’t even use the boat’s own power to control it.  Instead one of them actually launched his dinghy and used it to push the stern into the dock.  I could maybe understand it if the wind was shoving the bow around so badly that they had to use the dinghy to control the bow but the stern?  There’s a great big rudder on a sailboat – its not hard to move the ass end around.

The most disturbing aspect of their maneuvers was that they seemed completely ignorant about the wind.  Last night when they arrived there was a fairly stiff breeze blowing up the bay.  The first boat came in, rounded up into the wind and let the wind stop him neatly against the dock.  No problems there but the next two were another matter altogether.  The second one chose to dock on the downwind side of the finger but his prop walk was in his favour if he had made any attempt to use it.  Instead he used his dinghy.  The last one came in on the upwind side of the same finger and then repeatedly tried to back against his prop walk when all he had to do was stop and wait for the wind to blow him down on the dock.  After 6 or 7 tries he had finally drifted down on the dock in spite of his efforts.  If one of the kids had been at the helm maybe it would have been understandable but it was clearly an adult at each helm.  Watch and learn I guess – I only hope the kids were able to learn from seeing it done wrong.

After Victoria we had a nice uneventful trip back to Cow Bay.  When we got home I phoned American Diesel and (as usual) Brian Smith answered.  I described my coolant leak and fully expected him to tell me I needed to change the head gasket at the very least and likely to plane the head at the same time.  Instead he asked me when the last time was that the heads were torqued.  I’d forgotten because you never retorque a modern engine but it used to be fairly common to retorque heads after the engine had run for a while.  The most impressive element of the call was the fact that it was the second time I’ve called American Diesel and the second time they’ve given me free advice that cuts them out of a multi-hundred or even thousand dollar sale.  Ya gotta love people like that.

Retorquing the head meant that I’d also need to reset the valves which I couldn’t do until I bought or borrowed a set of feeler gauges. On Monday I found a neighbour with a set of feeler gauges and tore into retorquing the heads.  Once I got the port side put back together it seemed to have gone so well that I decided I might as well do the starboard side as well.  Time will tell whether I accomplished anything or not.  The engines both started after I got done messing around with them so that’s always a good sign and by no means a guaranteed outcome when I’m doing the wrenching.  I did a full throttle runup on the port engine and couldn’t see any sign of a leak but I won’t be 100% confident of that until I can run it up under load.  I didn’t want to let it scream in the slip for too long for fear of annoying the neighbours so maybe all I did was get some grease under my fingernails.  Like Ken Kotowich told me years ago, experience is what you get when you don’t get what you really want.  Maybe all I got was experience.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

High tea & dim sum

We’re not going to do the high tea bullshit but dim sum is another matter altogether.  Especially when Victoria’s Chinatown is less than 4 blocks from our doorstep.

We didn’t have anything particular planned for the weekend so Thursday morning we slipped the lines and cruised by a roundabout path to SNSYC.  Earlier this spring we agreed to camphost at Beaumont Marine Park on South Pender Island so we thought we’d check out Bedwell Harbour, the location of the park.  It was pretty enough and a great spot for lunch but it turned out that organizing for the park hosting is kind of a fustercluck so we won’t be doing that after all.  Truth be told that came as a relief because we seem to have been busy busy busy.  We’d really like to get up to Desolation Sound before we leave for the prairies in July but it was looking impossible to do that.  It still may not happen but now there’s at least a glimmer of a chance that it will.

I attended Bob Smith’s seminar on diesel engine maintenance in Anacortes and came away with some useful information.  In the short term that information will probably cost me money but we’ll hope it saves something in the long term.  His presentation was full of good common sense advice and one of the tips that stuck with me was to stress test the mechanicals every time we go out.  He made the point that a boat engine running at hull speeds isn’t getting any kind of a workout.  If you run a truck (or bus) at normal highway speeds most of the time it is making less than its full horsepower but occasionally when you climb a hill it will be called on to produce full horsepower.  Those occasions will test the entire drive train and if you have a problem (bad u-joint for instance or compromised cooling system) that is when you would expect those problems to show up.  That never happens in a boat unless you push the throttles all the way forward and leave them there for a few minutes.  Bob’s point was that it is better to do the stress test regularly and on your schedule.  Similar to a heart stress test we would rather have a drive train failure at a time of our choosing – in the doctor’s office as it were – than at a time when the boat chooses – in the middle of a storm for example. 

So ever since Anacortes I have been pushing the throttles all the way forward immediately after the engines first come up to operating temperature.  I leave them there for 2 or 3 minutes, watching to see that the temps don’t keep rising and noting the maximum RPM that they make each time.  Everything seemed good except that recently I have noticed a bit of a coolant leak on the port engine.  I didn’t initially connect the two events because I have been suspicious that it was leaking a bit right from the start but never have been able to pin down exactly where it was coming out.  On the way down to Sidney I finally put it all together, went down in the engine room during the full power run and sure enough, found where my coolant leak was.  It looks to me like it probably never leaks except during high RPM operation so its not serious but its real and it needs to be fixed.  The nice thing about having a boat is that you are never short of things to do.

To come to Victoria we happened to get lucky with our timing and were able to ride the tide down Haro Strait.  The books and web authors who write about trawler travel make a big deal about how you should time your travels to take advantage of the currents.  The logic is that a relatively small absolute value for a current is very significant when compared to our normally slow travel speeds and therefore critical in our planning.  And that is true, as far as it goes.  We travel at a maximum of 8 knots and more typically at 7 so a 2 knot current is 25% or more of our typical travel speed.  That means we can catch a 25% free ride by timing our departure to coincide with the appropriate current.

It’s the “timing our departure” part where things start to come off the rails.  We met a couple in Anacortes who have just bought their first boat and it was amusing to listen to them talk about how they were going to get all this free travel thanks to the currents.  The reality is somewhat different.

To start with there’s often only two “useable” currents per 24 hours.  Right now there’s effectively only one high and one low tide in 24 hours.  Sometimes you have 2 distinct highs and two lows per day but right now everything is lined up so that the lower high is just kind of a stepping stone on the way to low tide and vice versa.  Since the tides drive the currents that means there’s only two currents per day and one of them will be going the way you don’t want it to go.  That only leaves one current that is moving in your favour and for most trips you only have maybe 6 hours flexibility in your departure time so unless that one favourable current happens to land in that 6 hour window it isn’t going to help you.  And it may just as easily hinder you.  I suppose in theory you could make plans months in advance and time them to hit the right current windows but then you’d also have to contend with the day to day reality of unpredictable weather, particularly wind.  The bottom line in it all is that sometimes you get lucky but most of the time you just try to minimize the damage that you current does to you.  So we really appreciated the boost that the current gave us on our trip to Victoria.  It probably clipped at least an hour off the passage from Sidney.

Coming into the inner harbour in Victoria was all new to us.  I’d read about it and of course we have seen the harbour from in front of the Empress but its different when there’s vessels in front and vessels behind and seaplanes taking off and landing beside you.  The woman at the harbour authority was first rate – she talked me into the right slip and fortunately we fit in the first one she assigned us.  This morning I learned by watching a later arrival that she doesn’t necessarily know how big the slips she is assigning are relative to the vessels she is trying to fit into them.  Some poor saps in a sailboat were out in the rain trying futilely to fit into various slips that the harbour authority had assigned to them.  Finally they gave up in our little basin and the last I saw they were rounding the outside wharf headed for a new assignment further south of us.

Today there’s a sailpast for the three yacht clubs that have taken over most of the moorage in the harbour.  The sailpast won’t likely amount to much but there’s about 80 boats involved and I think they plan to dock them all again after the sailpast.  If I’m right that should be about the best entertainment within 100 miles while it is going on.  They’re rafted up solid in front of the Empress right now – getting them jammed back in should involve a lot of yelling and at least one outright wreck.  There’s not much wind today which is unfortunate but you can’t have everything.

And of course today is dimsum day too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I didn’t take many pictures at Trawlerfest, which is where we’ve been for most of the last week.  We went last year in San Diego but the Anacortes version is a lot bigger event.  They’re not shy about charging for the privilege of attending but we’re glad we went and we’ll go back another year.  A good measure of how much fun we had is the fact that I hardly took a picture and never wrote a word.  We were just having way too much fun.

There’s a lot of crossover between the converted bus community and the trawler world.  Not that bus owners necessarily end up as boat owners, let alone trawler types but the attitudes and approach to life are similar.  Delfin, the converted steel Romsdahl trawler in the picture above is a good example of a labour of love that far exceeds both the finish and the seaworthiness of any production boat anywhere.   She holds 2500 gallons of fuel, is finished in several exotic hardwoods that I had never even heard of much less seen and is one of the hardiest ocean crossers I have ever seen.

We renewed acquaintances with some of the same people that we saw in San Diego last winter and made some new contacts.  Of course we spent time with Chuck and Gail, former Gray Hawk owners.  And we took a new Krogen owner out for a boat ride to La Conner on a miserably rainy Sunday.  He and his wife are working on their boat on the hard in Anacortes.  They were onboard Saturday night and we agreed that if it was raining on Sunday then we would take them to La Conner (if the sun had been shining they would have been working on their boat).  On Sunday it was absolutely pissing rain all day but unfortunately only George could join us because Sue was nursing a sick dog. 

Yesterday, Monday, we left Anacortes around noon headed for Reid Harbor which is the little marine park just north of the entrance to Roche Harbor.  As we approached Wasp Passage we were passed by one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s fast RIBs.  It went buzzing off into the distance and disappeared up a channel.  Then a few minutes later it came zooming back out of that channel and passed us at high speed on the starboard but immediately rounded our stern and came up alongside to port.  We had been warned by many people that we would certainly be boarded by USCG at some point and we were. 

We talked out the open cabin door and they told me that they wanted me to stay in gear but pull back to idle.  When I did that they eased up alongside until they were touching the side of Gray Hawk.  Marilyn opened the rail for them and they boarded while we were still underway.  Three of them came aboard – a coastie and coastie-trainee and a border guard- they call them Homeland Security but they’re border guards.  It was all very polite and civilized although I’m sure that could have changed in a heartbeat if they thought it was necessary.  From our standpoint it was just another boating adventure so we went along with the program and enjoyed the interaction.  When we were all done apparently one of them thanked Marilyn for our “cooperativeness and pleasant nature”.  I didn’t know we had a choice.

Last night we anchored in Reid Harbor.  It felt like home because we’ve been there or on the other side in Prevost Harbor every time we have passed by on Gray Hawk. 

We had to take two runs at it to get our new anchor to set.  I don’t know what happened the first time but it just wouldn’t set.  The roll bar is supposed to flop it over and prevent that from happening but it wasn’t working yesterday so we pulled it up, moved over a bit and took another pull.  That time it set solidly and I was able to power up to be sure that it had dug in.  Not long after we got it set we had some vicious winds blow in and I think one of the gusts actually rolled the anchor out but it must have reset almost immediately because we didn’t move from that spot all night.  This morning when it came time to pull it the winch wouldn’t spring the anchor out of the bottom.  We pulled up over the anchor and the winch stalled with the chain straight down.  I waited a minute or so, tried the winch again and it pulled maybe another 8 inches of chain and then stalled again.  A couple of tries like that still hadn’t freed the anchor so I put the engines in gear alternately and it popped out immediately.  When we got it to the surface it was still full of really heavy mud.  In fact we had so much mud on it that we brought two live clams to the surface. 

I sat through an anchoring seminar at Trawlerfest that was presented by the US Power Squadron.  It was pretty light duty but the questions at the end of it prompted some discussion that was useful and after the seminar I walked back to lunch with Dennis Umstot.  He and his wife have cruised extensively in the Pacific Northwest as well as the Baltic and have crossed the Atlantic under their own power so I have a lot of respect for his opinion.  His advice on anchors was that if your windlass will lift it then its not too big. 

One of the questions at the end of the seminar was about setting the anchor and how hard you should pull on it to check whether or not it was set.  The Power Squadron guy clearly didn’t do much (any??) anchoring and he was really fudging his answers to the point where Dennis finally stepped in.  His answer was that unless you could power up the engines after you set the anchor then you weren’t anchored.  He went on to say that in his opinion well over half the boats in Cap Sante marina were under-equipped in the anchor department.  I don’t think we’re in that category anymore and I sure slept good last night.

Marilyn on the other hand didn’t sleep so well.  At some point during the night she heard some splashing at her head and then became aware that someone or some thing had boarded the boat.  I dunno why the hell she didn’t wake me at that point but she didn’t.  Instead she and the 4-legged idiot went out on-deck – with a flashlight - to investigate the boarding.  By the time they got there the swim grid was empty but she said it had a big wet spot on one side so likely we were boarded by an otter or maybe a seal.

We went way out of the way on the trip to Anacortes in the hope that a passage down the west side of San Juan island would let us view some of the elusive whales.  No luck.  I’m beginning to think that whales are like sunshine in BC – much talked about but seldom seen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I’m from the government. I’m here to help you.

So this morning I had coffee with the guys, hung around for a while, went to the Post Office where the Canada Post guy had the door open before 9:30 but seemed decidedly pissed off that I had dared to venture into his lair before that magic hour, picked up Marilyn’s dive course that I should have picked up on Saturday and finally got underway just before noon.  I had an uneventful passage but as I came through the channel from Swartz Bay it got pretty lumpy and I realized that the wind had got up.  It was bumpy enough coming into Van Isle that I turned on the stabilizers and the cat puked before we even got that far.  So I was more than a little nervous about single-handing the dock at SNSYC. 

Initially I thought I’d back in and tie on the SE side of the pier which would have had the SE wind pushing me squarely onto the dock.  That’s a pretty easy docking even alone but as I rounded the breakwater I remembered that I couldn’t do that today.  Until 4:00 every day and on Thursday evenings that section of dock is reserved for the junior sailors, of which there are none today but that’s beside the point, its reserved.  So I had to adjust on the fly and when I realized that there wasn’t another soul on the dock I decided to pull as far forward as possible to try to get a bit of wind shelter from the breakwater and point of land that it juts out from.  That didn’t really work and just as I made the turn at the breakwater the wind got serious and really started bossing me around. 

I came down the pier at an angle with the rudder hard over and the props countering each other holding it in with the bow thruster.  Normally that would walk me sideways but today it more or less held me to the dock but didn’t really gain much against the wind.  When I got up behind the club boat and couldn’t got any further ahead I snuggled up against the dock one last time and then ducked outside onto the dock to start tying up.  Of course as soon as I left the helm Gray Hawk started to leave the dock but I got my spring line tied as short as I could and was able to pull her back close enough so I could get back onboard immediately with the spring line holding me amidships.  By that time the bow had swung over the dock so that we were at about a 45 degree angle facing into the dock.  I pushed the bow back out, ran the stbd engine for a few seconds to pin the stern to the dock and hopped ashore again to tie up the stern line. 

As I was doing that I saw a fairly well dressed woman coming down the dock towards me.  I got the stern tied off and had the bow line wrapped on a cleat by the time she got up to me.  My first instinct was that she was from the yacht club and that I had done something wrong.  She had that kind of gleam in her eye that says “I’m right and you’re wrong” but when she started speaking I realized that it was much worse than that. 

She had a badge around her neck that she was thrusting forward with one hand and a clipboard in the other hand.  When she started talking she never paused for breath “I’m Nosy Nomind with Statistics Canada and I’m walking the dock today and and anda ……..”  I kind of zoned out there for a while until she came up for breath at which point I simply said “I’m single-handing today, this is a bitch of a wind so why don’t you go bother somebody else.”  Which she did, muttering to herself about how she would have helped me if only she knew what to do.  I’m just guessing but likely docking boats isn’t the only thing she’s clueless about.

I’m not a big fan of Stats Canada, having had some memorable run-ins with them over the years.  The best time I ever had with them was when we were living in town in Nipawin.  When they phoned me at the shop I’d ask them if it was a personal call and then tell them I couldn’t take personal calls at the shop.  When they phoned the house I wouldn’t talk to them and apparently Marilyn was telling them to phone me at work.  In this case I suppose I’d likely have been an asshole no matter how she approached me but she’d have had a lot better chance if she had stood back and at least waited until I was tied off.

Now I’m sitting here checking the weather and waiting for Marilyn’s plane to land.  I think we’re going to get beat up a bit but we’re going to cross to Roche Harbor anyway.  Once we get in the San Juan Islands we’ll be pretty sheltered for the rest of the trip to Anacortes and I don’t think the crossing will be all that bad anyway.  We’re out in the open on the Strait of Georgia for about an hour on this crossing so even if its bad its not bad for very long.  There’s some kind of a front moving over and the wind is supposed to slack off as the day wears on.  Something big just landed so I expect Westjet has arrived.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A job well done

I’ve been working against the incessant rain to get the anchor remounted.  We’re going to Anacortes next weekend for Trawlerfest and I’m vain enough to want the boat looking as good as possible.  I love the look of our new Sarca but the mount left something to be desired until this morning.

Initially I planned a search of the various second hand stores in the vicinity and on the mainland because bow rollers heavy enough to mount the new anchor are not cheap.  Then I added up what the search was likely to cost – its over 100 bucks round trip to go to the mainland where the best stores are – and I quickly raised my budget for a new bow roller.  I made a trip to Nanaimo, stumbled onto an incredible chandler on the waterfront and ended up coming home with a stainless steel bow roller with a nylon roller.  I think the roller is maybe a little light for our purposes but if/when it fails I’ll replace it with something more substantial.  The bracket itself is pretty well exactly what I wanted and it was all lying on the shelf in Nanaimo for a mere 1/4 of a boat unit.

Today the epoxy that I applied yesterday was cured enough to drill again.  I like using the West System slow hardener because the ultimate strength of the epoxy is higher if it cures slowly but in this miserable weather its awful tempting to use the fast hardener because the weather pretty well guarantees a slow cure either way.  Eventually I’d like to coat the teak in the bow pulpit with West System using clear hardener but there’s no way I’m going to even try that until the weather smartens up.

The biggest challenge of the installation was to conjure up a tie down mechanism that looked good and was secure.  I’m not 100% happy with the appearance of the tie down for the CQR but it will do until I come up with something better.  The biggest consideration for the CQR mount (aside from appearances and security) was to keep it out of the way when we deploy the new anchor.  Now that the windlass is working the way Chuck said it would the chain runs out pretty fast.  Its actually kind of cool to watch and hear it go out but its going fast enough that I don’t want it to get hung up on the old anchor when its really flying out.

The new bracket came with a storage pin which required drilling the new anchor to accept the pin.  That only cost me one drill bit so it could have been worse.  All in all I’m pretty satisfied with the appearance and it won’t shame us when we open the boat to trawler-crawl in Anacortes. 

I did some hard drive housecleaning and discovered the following two pictures of prawns.  I continue to be amazed by how easy the little devils are to catch.  A sink full of prawns pretty well sums up how we have been catching them.

IMG_4441    IMG_4443

The one on the right is the finished product after I pulled all their little heads off.  Actually their heads aren’t so little so the pile is quite a bit smaller but still pretty impressive.

The prawn fishery is supposed to be in very good shape.  I hope so because the commercial guys are out there now trying to harvest all the little buggers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wingnuts incorporated

For some reason CBC has been focusing on the rapturists today.  Right now there’s some loony tune babbling on about how the world is coming to an end imminently.  On any given day I’d be inclined to agree with him to the extent of saying that it is going to hell in a handbasket but I’m disinclined to believe that some western-centric deity is about to dissolve us all.  And coming on the heels of this week’s election I’m more sanguine about our possibilities.

If you’re seriously worried though here’s an idea: most of us know somebody somewhere else in the world.  I for example have a brother in law living in Tokyo.  Since its already tomorrow there, were I inclined to believe that some calamity was about to befall the world tomorrow, I could simply phone Brad to see if it had.

Me and the cat are wifeless this week while Marilyn returns to the prairies to rustle up some work.  I’ve been putting my time to good use getting messy boat projects out of the way.  Our new anchor doesn’t stow properly in the old bow roller but I have a solution in progress.  I bought a nice shiny stainless bracket with a roller in it and if the bloody rain will ever quit falling I’ll get it bolted down on the deck.  When I’m all done we’ll be able to carry the nice shiny CQR anchor on the old roller and the new Sarca over top of it on the new roller.  Today I got the holes drilled and then immediately filled them up with epoxy paste in the hope that the resin will soak into the surrounding wood so that when I drill it out again I won’t have edge grain exposed to water.  No matter how miserable it may be tomorrow I’ll get it mounted.

This afternoon I also got a ground wire run from the bow thruster to the mid-hull zinc plates.  I’m worried about how rapidly the zinc on the bow thruster eroded.  I tested the wiring with my multi-meter and it tested OK but there has to be something going on there.  The voltages are tiny which means that the currents and resistances are also miniscule so perhaps I just don’t have a good enough meter to measure what I was trying to measure.  Whatever the situation I now have a straight run of #8 AWG wire directly from the bow thruster case to the mid-hull zincs.  Once SWMBO gets dive certified I’ll send her down to have a look but until then I’ll just have to hope its OK.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The only way it could have been better

……… is if the stupidest woman in the world hadn’t won her seat. 

OK that may be a bit harsh – she may not actually be the absolute stupidest woman in the world.  But I guarantee if they ever hold an Olympic event for stupid Elizabeth May will get an invitation.  And the voters in Saanich Gulf Islands will get honourable mention for electing her stupidness to parliament. 

However as my son pointed out last night one of the first things a majority Harper government has pledged to do is to remove the party per-vote subsidy.  That will whack the so-called green movement’s finances.  Since only half as many Canadians were suckered by the message this time I’m betting that nobody will really mind that we aren’t supporting their loony tune agenda from the public purse.

I’m not going to go for coffee for a few days so as to avoid telling the people around me how stupid they are for electing this woman.  Stupid is as stupid does and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jacob and Esau

It’s hard for us in the west to understand the mid-east mindset but the story of Jacob and Esau sums it up perfectly.  In the west we assume honesty and trust in the absence of evidence to the contrary but that whole structure is turned upside down in the mid-east.  In the story Jacob uses trickery to extract the blessing that his father would normally have reserved for his elder brother.  That is normal behaviour for a large portion of the world’s population.

Nobody reading this will likely live long enough to read the true story of the death of Osama Bin Laden but rest assured that treachery was involved.  Does anybody really believe the fiction being floated by the White House?  They followed some random errand boy for 8 months?  Give me a break already. 

One of two things happened.  Either Bin Laden pissed somebody off and got turned in for that or the prospect of an American reward finally got to somebody in Pakistan.  Either way its good riddance to bad rubbish but the American jubilation seems a little declasse.  The real story should be that Obama’s flaccid international policy wasn’t able to persuade the Pakistani government to turn over America’s most wanted.  Let’s not pretend that they didn’t know he was living next door to their military academy.

And if anybody seriously thinks the world is safer today than it was yesterday then give me a call because I’ve got some ocean front real estate in Buchanan that you may be interested in.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An evolutionary dead end

The smart cats evolved into lions and tigers, pumas and panthers – kings of the jungle, tertiary predators, the top of the evolutionary food chain.  The dumb ones on the other hand ended up as housecats.


Just as I was sitting down (on the deck, in the sun) to eat a wonderful dinner Marilyn discovered that idiot brain was missing.  I managed to convince her that he was either gone or OK and waiting while we finished dinner wasn’t going to make any difference except of course that dinner would be cold if we dropped everything to look for Brainless the Second.  So we ate dinner and then I went looking for the fool.  As you can see I didn’t have to look far.  He looks deceptively relaxed in the picture but in fact he was more than a little disturbed by the fact that he was too stupid to find his way back out.  The trap is complicated enough to fool a crab so it shouldn’t be any surprise that it is also complicated enough to fool our failure of evolution.

This morning we were treated to a sail past by most of the West Coast Workboats that were still here for their gathering.  I think they did it to honour some guy who died over the past year but by the looks of most of them honouring a comrade who died in the past 12 months is likely an annual event.  Whatever the excuse it was fun to see all of them parading around the bay.  We launched Hawkita so we could watch from water level.

I counted something over 20 boats doing the grand tour around the bay.  Not all the boats that were still in the marina participated in the parade and some left before it started so I’m guessing that they had maybe 30 boats in total show up for the weekend.  Some of them were more attractive than others but most of them looked like pretty seaworthy accommodations.  A couple in particular were really well done. 

I won’t pick on one that looks bad but Raincoast Spirit (below) is a good example of one where the converter obviously paid attention to aesthetics as well as functionality.  The rear cabin has been added on top of what would originally have been the working deck.  Note how the new cabin top line picks up its direction from the line of the original cabin and blends with the sheer line to the aft.  (the sheer line is the profile of the boat minus the cabin)  Rather than trying to match the new cabin to the original cabin the builder has deliberately separated them with an obvious break that mimics the drop in the sheer line below it.  Very well done.

Romance (in the picture below) is an example of one with a particularly bad cabin line so I won’t show it in profile but the workmanship on the boat was absolutely exquisite.  I didn’t pay attention to what he used for drawings because obviously they came from somebody with a bad eye but the boat’s fit and finish could be stacked up against the best fibreglass construction in the world.  The boat is built in cold molded epoxy which means that it is a wood/epoxy sandwich.  In this case the hull is 3 layers of 1/4” x 8” cedar with the first two layers diagonal and the last layer lengthwise.  He used nylon staples to clamp the cedar layers and of course everything would have been slobbered with epoxy.  When its all done the hull is every bit as strong as a fibreglass hull and perhaps stronger plus it has some of the weight and warmth of wood.