Monday, January 30, 2012


We untied from the SNSYC reciprocal dock in the dark and crept our way out of Tsehum Harbour through the crabpot minefield at the entrance.  It was so dark that we only saw 2 crabpots – there’s more out there but if they were more than a couple of yards either side of the boat we simply couldn’t see them.  We got to Active Pass a bit after slack but before it got running too hard.  Then we headed out across the Strait of Georgia toward the mouth of the Fraser River. 

It was a glorious day for the trip.  Its January, so it wasn’t particularly warm but it wasn’t cold either.  The Strait was pretty calm – by the time we got across it was kicking up a bit but barely calling for the stabilizers.  There was hardly another soul out there with us – a few commercial guys and a couple of sailboats in the distance once we got into English Bay but no other recreating fools such as ourselves.   Somewhere in the middle of the strait a couple of dolphins showed up and played with us for a while.

I couldn’t figure why there were so many radar signatures and so few boats on the water until I realized that we were passing just west of the Vancouver International Airport (YVR).  Once I clued in to what was going on I could see the jets that the radar was tracking.  Some of them would get too high and go off the chart so to speak but it was surprising how high I was tracking them. 

We didn’t get tipped on our side going under the Lions Gate this year.  Last year about the time we were going under the bridge with Doug and Jo onboard a great honking big tug went roaring by us sucking half the ocean up behind him.  Doug thought I was joking when I told him to hang on but he wasn’t laughing when the captain’s chair he was sitting on dumped him as the tug’s wake hit us. 

We got settled into Burrard Yacht Club although not without a bit of adventure.  The dock they had us at last year was occupied and we couldn’t see an obvious place for reciprocals to tie up at.  What we did see all had “no berth here” signs hanging on it.  We kept nosing our way further into the marina and eventually spied an open stretch of bullrail long enough for us to tie up at.  By the time we got edged up to it a couple of locals had showed up to help hold our lines.  They thought we’d be OK here for the night and in the morning the guy at the office can sort out where he’d like us to be.  Wherever we end up we’re only about 2 blocks from Popeye’s Marine Consignment which is the real reason we’re here.  It will be a serious adventure getting out of here because the fairway is about only about 30 feet wide – not a prayer of a chance that we will get turned around in it and there’s a wicked dogleg turn to get back out but that’s a problem for another day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Worth a read

A couple of things caught my attention this week:

First some suit from the RCMP in BC finally got around to apologizing to the families of Pigman Picton’s victims.  About bloody time.  It wasn’t much of an apology as apologies go – there were a lot of weasel words about hindsight and he never actually came out and said “we didn’t take this too seriously because it was just Indian whores that were going missing”.  But it was a start on apologizing.  Maybe the rest of the RCMP brass can take some lessons – between tripping over their dicks on the Picton investigation, tasering that poor immigrant Pole to death and harassing women it seems to me like maybe the RCMP will be doing a lot of apologizing over the next few years.

Today the jury convicted the Shafia family members of murder.  Good call but its about time we had a discussion in this country about what it means to be a Canadian.  We stumble around the edges of the discussion whenever we deport someone or when we have to deal with a Khadr or a Shafia but its high time we started having the conversation when new citizens take the oath of citizenship.  And then we need to follow up by taking the discussion seriously.  We don’t need to pretend that its OK to speak some foreign gibberish in public.  We don’t need to make allowance for cultural diversity as regards clothing or treatment of women or religious practices.  If we want our country to continue in its Judeo Christian WASP heritage of tolerance and (small “L”) liberal values then we need to stand up and tell every citizen that they actually matter.  And for the ones that don’t toe the line we need to chuck them out of the country or into jail PDQ.

On the move again

Last night Marilyn and I met at the yacht club for their annual lobster dinner.  It wasn’t that great a dinner but we hadn’t really expected it to be very good because we were going for the companionship rather than the meal so that was OK. 

Marilyn flew in from Kelowna and I brought Gray Hawk over from Cow Bay.  I had a bunch of clean up to do in the morning because I have been busy removing and mounting new electrical gadgetry.  I had made a serious mess but I’m really happy with the results.  We now have a Xantrex/Heart Interface remote control panel to operate our inverter and a Balmar regulator to control our alternators.  The only thing missing from the complete project is replacing the monitor functions of the old Link system with a Trimetric 2025.  When I’m all done we’ll have three separate devices replacing the Link 2000-R system.  In the process I’m removing a lot of surplus wiring.  The Link may have combined everything into one visible panel but there were two additional hidden panels plus a very complicated shunt that appears to actually combine three shunts into one device in order to presumably monitor dual battery banks.  All of that stuff was connected by a maze of wiring that is now stored away for future use.

After I got everything squared away I had a pleasant trip over to the yacht club which was followed by an equally pleasant wait in the bar until Marilyn’s flight arrived.  The friends that we were meeting for supper arrived shortly after Marilyn did and then we drank our way to 7:00 when our seating was scheduled for.  The lobster was OK but I’ve had better – the club kitchen isn’t really equipped to prepare 60 lobsters in under 2 hours.  Everyone else at our table had the surf and turf so they also got a very small piece of New York strip that didn’t look like a good swap for the extra half a lobster that I got.  But we had a great visit with Gerry and Shirley.  They just got back from a cruise through the Panama Canal so they had lots of stories to tell.  They are also ready for a haulout so we’re thinking that we may be able to coordinate both our haulouts and make a joint trip to Seattle at the same time.

This morning we had intended to cross the strait to Vancouver but we didn’t get up early enough.  It’s a fairly long trip that could take us up to 10 hours or maybe even a bit longer, depending on how the currents work out.  There’s no abundance of daylight at this time of year so tomorrow we’ll get up in the dark and be outside the harbour when the sun gets up.  I’m not wild about navigating into the North Van in the dark – I’m also not wild about navigating out of Tsehum Harbour in the dark – the entrance is a minefield of floats where idiots have dropped their crabpots.  We’ll likely spend a couple of nights in Vancouver, work in a trip to Popeye’s salvage and then head up the coast.  We might just hang out at Gibson’s or we might go all the way up to Pender Harbour. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Killer cat

Marilyn flew to Kelowna this afternoon on a mercy mission.  This morning before she left she took the furball to the vet.  She wanted to have his papers up to date because we plan to take off on an extended adventure as soon as she gets back from tending to her brother.  Our adventure will start out with the yacht club lobsterfest and will likely include a trip to Port Angeles where we have a haulout scheduled for early March.  Evidently the furball wasn’t keen on visiting the vet.

When the two of them arrived back at noon Marilyn’s lip was bleeding.  Apparently when she attempted to extract Bonehead from under the backseat of the Exploder he came out swinging.  She said the vet had to attend to her dripping lip before he could deal with the cat.  She was a lot more understanding and sympathetic towards Nimrod than I would have been.  I’ve generally found that if you grab them by the scruff of the neck and control the back end with the tail they are pretty willing to accompany you but her methods are more “humane”.

After getting Marilyn to the ferry I tracked down a welding shop.  Ever since we installed the davits on the swim grid last year I have wanted to extend them higher.  We can carry the dinghy clear of the water with no problem but I’d like it to be higher off the water.  I also have a vision of mounting solar panels on top of the davits but that too requires that they be higher off the water.  Its also been a long term goal of mine to learn to use some kind of CAD software.  I’ve gone through several flavours of software – nothing on the calibre of Autocad but some pretty good stuff nevertheless.  And every one of them has been a frustrating disaster.

About 18 months ago I downloaded Google Sketchup and went through the same head-banging series of attempts to learn to use it that I had suffered on each of the preceding attempts.  My pattern was that I would try to use the software, get frustrated, quit and leave it for several months and then after I had forgotten how frustrated I had been I’d start the cycle all over again.  After we got back on the boat I took another run at Sketchup and ran into that old familiar wall.  The difference this time was that I had watched Marilyn use Youtube to learn how to paint and we have a pretty decent wifi connection here this winter.  So I did a few searches and eventually came up with a 5 minute lesson on Youtube.  That gave me enough initial confidence to bootstrap my way into further learning.  My first attempt turned into the following drawing:

base - top

That’s not my first pass at the drawing by any stretch but it was remarkably easy to get to a reasonable representation of what I had in mind.  Bolstered by the confidence that I could master the damn software I carried on:

Davit extension

The vertical wall represents Gray Hawk’s transom.  We currently have two St. Croix davits mounted to the swim grid which corresponds to the bottom of the drawing.  My intent is to raise the davits as depicted in the drawing.  In the 2nd drawing the base from the first drawing appears toward the top of the support frame.  The davits will rest on that new base rather than on the swim grid where they currently rest.  They will be supported at the top by some ties back to the top of the rail around the rear deck.  I haven’t drawn that portion yet because it is still fermenting in my mind but I’m confident that I can draw it.  What you can’t tell from these flat pictures is that all those surfaces are 3-D and I can rotate the drawings in 3 planes to look at them and work on it from any angle.  For anyone who uses CAD software regularly what I am doing is no doubt trivial but for me it has been a major breakthrough.  A MAJOR breakthrough.

Today I took the drawing of the base to a kid who runs a nearby welding shop.  He seemed to think he could build me a couple but he needed some time figure out what the stainless steel was going to cost him before he gave me a price.  That’s OK by me because I’ve got a lot of drawing ahead of me before I’ll be ready to start bolting things together.

Tonight I finished up installing the new regulator on the engine alternators.  When we bought Gray Hawk she came with a Link 2000-R control system on her Freedom 25 inverter.  That’s the same inverter that we have on the frenchy-bus but on the bus we have a Freedom control panel to run the inverter, a Trimetric 2025 monitor to tell us how the batteries are doing and the alternator looks after its own voltage regulation.  The Link 2000-R claims to combine all those functions into one bit of plastic.  Leaving aside how needlessly complex that makes the display panel, I didn’t like the thought of having all those functions dependent on one piece of plastic.  And sure enough, when we got back onboard, the system started charging at too high a voltage.  It still goes back to a 13.65 volt float but along the way it takes the batteries up to 17 volts which will eventually boil them dry.  The problem of course is that it does that on the charger as well as when we’re underway because both systems are tied together.

So I got busy and started ordering parts to convert the system back to exactly what we have on the bus.  I think we have a really good system on the bus and duplicating it on Gray Hawk will make it easier to switch back and forth between our two homes.  The Freedom inverter is an exceptionally rugged piece of equipment – its just the control system that George had set up that I object to.  Today I disconnected the engine regulator from the Link system and hooked up a Balmar 614 regulator to control the alternators.  I hope that the Freedom control panel will arrive in our UPS shipment on Friday but I may wait until I have the Trimetric in hand before I tear into the balance of the system. 

In addition to using Google Sketchup I have been using something called “Dia” to draw electrical and plumbing schematics.  Its Freeware but really powerful stuff which makes it dead simple to draw flowcharts or schematics.   I’ve found that drawing the schematics forces me to understand the systems completely in a way that I didn’t before.  Today I finished up a drawing for the fuel plumbing.  Eventually I will diagram the entire electrical system but that will take a long time.  I expect when I’m done that I will be able to pull about 50 pounds of surplus copper wire out of Gray Hawk because over the years successive owners have just added new wiring whenever they added some equipment.  Even though they were likely concurrently removing old equipment the old wire stayed in place.  Only by doing a detailed schematic will I be able to tell what I need and what can go.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Boats that don’t float

Amid all the media circus around the sinking of the Costa Concordia I have maintained that the whole story is yet to be told.  Its hard to explain the actions of the hapless Captain Schettino but probably even harder to find out from this distance what really happened and what he really did.  If you’re up for close to 15 minutes of maritime narration, this video makes it all a lot clearer.

Final hour of the Costa Concordia

Reconstruction of the Costa Concordia Tragedy, Narration by John Konrad from on Vimeo.

The cruise line is clearly hanging the captain out to dry.  What is less clear is how much of the blame should fall on the captain and how much on the cruise line itself.  While the media initially presented the situation as black and white my instinct was that there were likely many shades of gray involved.  Clearly the captain was grandstanding and he got too close to the island - - - THIS TIME.  Somewhere I read another account of an earlier close pass by the same island, maybe in August if memory serves so this activity was not completely unusual and may very well have been routine and therefore known to his employer.  Known to or perhaps even tacitly condoned by his employer. 

The video refers to Schettino’s claim that he was navigating by sight.  That was likely the initiating error in this incident, if you discount the grandstanding that likely was the overarching problem.  Accidents at sea tend to result from an early error of judgment that compounds and eventually leaves the protagonist with no options, or in this case on the rocks.   When you look at the chart in the video you will see that a path slightly further to the east – probably as little as 50 feet further to the east – would have allowed the boat to continue untouched.  Initiating the turn seconds earlier would have accomplished that but judging that exact distance by eye at night would have been extremely difficult.

What is also evident in the video is that immediately after the incident the captain took exactly the correct actions to mitigate further damage and to protect the lives of his passengers.  The boat did not end up grounded in shallow water by accident – that was a very deliberate action that likely saved hundreds of lives.  These cruise boats are a floating abomination.  They are about as seaworthy as a can of tomato soup.  With close to a 200 foot hole ripped in the side of the floating apartment it would have laid over on its side, trapped most of its passengers inside and promptly gone to the bottom.  Lifeboats are unlikely to be any use when one of these behemoths tips over – the boats on the downward side will get crushed and the boats on the high side can’t be launched because they are lying against the floating apartment. 

The only question about the captain remaining in my mind is what the hell he did after the grounding.  He was in shallow water and obviously his life was in no immediate danger.  His actions after the rock strike indicate the ability to think under pressure so the suggestion that he abandoned ship early out of panic doesn’t seem logical to me.  People do funny things under pressure but I don’t think we’ve heard the whole story on this one yet. 

And now for some late breaking news:  Winston Churchill, enjoying his retirement on a Mediterranean cruise operated by an Italian line is reputed to have been asked “Why an Italian cruise line?”  To which he is reputed to have responded:

“There are three things I like about an Italian cruise line – first, the service is excellent, second the food is extraordinary and third, in the event of an emergency, there is none of that messy nonsense about women and children first.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh dear!!


You’ll have to excuse the image quality.  All of these were taken through the glass because there’s no way I’m going out there just to take a few pictures.  There’s a big winter storm buffeting the Island today.  The radio keeps going on about how cold it is but its really not that cold – maybe –6 or so for a low and up to close to zero during the day. 


The forecast says we’ll have this crap until Saturday and then it will be back to lows above zero and highs in the 8 to 10 range.  Yesterday I offered our diver a ride to the airport.  I hope he doesn’t claim it.  If he does it will be because the Malahat is too awful to drive over.  We would take the boat to the customs dock at Van Isle and he would then take a 5 minute cab ride from there to the airport.  I’m sure once we got away from the dock we’d be just fine but it really isn’t a very nice day to go anywhere.  As we discovered on the weekend, we will need to bring our lines inside while we are travelling because if they are left outside its like trying to tie knots in tree twigs.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


There’s a sad collection of derelict vessels anchored in pretty well every harbour.  Some are worse than others – Brentwood Bay for instance has a particularly bad reputation as a last resting place of uncared for boats.  Saturday night when we pulled into the yacht club in Tsehum Harbour I recognized some of the derelicts that were there last year but this one in particular looked worse than I remembered it looking.


Sunday morning I said to Marilyn “I think that boat is sinking – it looks even worse than it did last night.”  Then I snapped a couple of pictures of it, we talked about hulks in general for a few minutes and both of us promptly forgot the conversation.  Until about an hour later. 

We could hear the Victoria Coast Guard trying to raise “Gypsy Wind”.  She sounded a little frustrated, like they often do when a vessel repeatedly hails them but doesn’t respond when they answer.  A while later we could hear Gypsy Wind hailing the Coast Guard and just about at the point where I thought maybe I should relay for them, they finally heard the Coast Guard response.  As soon as they said they wanted to report a vessel sinking in Tsehum Harbour I made sure I followed them up the dial when they moved off channel 16.  Sure enough they were reporting the same boat I had taken pictures of that morning. 

The woman at the Coast Guard was a little annoyed with Gypsy Wind for not responding to her so she first had to chastise him for his radio use.  Then she was clearly reluctant to accept his claim that the boat was actually sinking.  At one point she asked him “have you observed this vessel in the past?”  To which he responded “only a couple of times a day for the last 3 years.”  At that point she seemed to accept his assessment of the situation and moved on to the rote questions “GPS location?” “Any environmental contamination?” Etc.  Maybe we should have reported it but in hindsight my 2 observations in 24 hours likely wouldn’t have convinced her that it actually was going down.

We’ll be back at the club next Saturday – I’m curious to see if the boat is gone.

You can frame this

On the northern pipeline, our Prime Minister being interviewed by Peter Mansbridge:

It's one thing in terms of whether Canadians, you know, want jobs, to what degree Canadians want environmental protection. These are all valid questions.

But just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don't think that's part of what our review process is all about.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Italian night at the yacht club

We need to get back in the social whirl of the “club” so we bought tickets to their Italian night and tonight we’re tied up at the reciprocal dock at SNSYC.  Its actually a lot more convenient for us to come to the club by boat than it is by car.  It takes about the same length of time – maybe 2 hours on the water and at least 1-1/2 hours by road.  More importantly, if we come by boat we can stumble back to the boat and go to sleep.  If we come by car one of us has to be the designated driver and we have that hour and a half trip to look forward to after the evening is over.


I’d forgotten how pretty Gray Hawk is until I was coming back from my dock-walk this afternoon and she just took my breath away.  There isn’t another boat on this dock that I’d even consider trading her for.  And there’s plenty of them to choose from with some of them no doubt insured for 3-5 times what Gray Hawk is insured for.


This isn’t the famous barge that sank at our dock but it likely is the pile driver that ripped Gary’s bull rail off after replacing the finger pier.  We missed that big adventure because we were on a Costco run that day but there’s not that many pile setting cranes on the water here.  There was a surprising amount of traffic on the water today considering that it is the middle of January and not all that warm out.  We saw several recreational boats, one great honking big RCMP boat and a couple of commercial fishing boats in addition to the usual ferries. 

When we first got up this morning it was pretty choppy at the dock and the cloud cover was socked in low overhead.  We had pretty well talked ourselves out of taking the boat out but then the sun came out and the waves calmed down and all of a sudden it seemed like a good idea again.  Sitting here in the late afternoon sun at the yacht club reciprocal dock it seems like a good decision.  Tomorrow we have to get an early start for home because our diver is coming at 1:00 boat time.  If we don’t catch him now he is going away for a month and that will be too long so we need to make sure we get home in time tomorrow.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ran out of volts

We decided that today was as good a time as any so we packed up the stuff that was scattered all over the cabin, untied all the extra lines we had put on in July and about 2:30 we set out for a brief cruise of the bay.  Getting away from the dock means that everything has to be shipshape, or sort of of shipshape anyway and it forces us to get that done now rather than putting it off for yet another day.  When we got back the sun was still trying to peek out so we pressure washed some more of the green slime away.  Our boat is starting to look like someone loves it again.

When we got ready to leave I discovered that we didn’t have a bow thruster.  That’s bad but not a deal breaker so we went anyway.  After all, that was the purpose of the trip, to see what worked and what didn’t.  After we got done pressure washing I traced the problem to a lack of volts emerging from the 48 volt charger.  I hope it hasn’t killed the batteries that power the thruster but I assume it will have.  Tomorrow we’ll find a new charger and then likely the next day I’ll find some new batteries.

I already mentioned that we had put the dinghy on the foredeck to keep British Mike from ploughing into it during his random-navigation departures and arrivals in the marina. Having it on the foredeck was making it really hard to get around on deck and it meant we couldn’t let the cat outside for fear he would put little holes in the dinghy.  We couldn’t unload it in the slip though because we are too close to our new neighbour so we pumped all the water out of it and as soon as we got out in the bay we chucked it overboard. Its not hanging on the davits exactly the same as it did before but I still haven’t decided whether I like the way it hangs now better than the old way so it can hang like that until I do decide.  Long term my goal is to extend the davits so that it hangs a lot higher than it does now but I’m not sure whether I’m going to hire that done or use it as an excuse to buy a little MIG welder.

Gary (our landlord) has installed wifi in the marina but like most amateur wifi installations it doesn’t work very well.  I bought something called a range extender at London Drugs the other day.  I didn’t even know they existed but when I went looking for an external USB wifi antenna I came home with the range extender instead.  The theory is that it picks up weak wifi signals and rebroadcasts them, both directions.  So if your computer is too weak to reach the router it will amplify that signal and if the router is too weak to reach your computer that signal gets amplified.  It was a bit of a PITA to get it set up, mainly because they ship it with idiot software that is supposed to do everything automatically – and of course it doesn’t.  Then it puts a stupid message on your screen that tells you to call support.  I can just imagine how that call would go “is your extender turned on?”, “is your computer turned on?” – life is too short but fortunately Google was acquainted with both the range extender and how to configure it manually.  So now we have functioning wifi onboard.  Its by no means ripping fast and in fact it becomes snail slow late in the day but its more than we had last year.  And did I mention – its free.

(later – Thursday the 12th)

I never got around to posting this so I’ll just add to it rather than start another one.  Our wifi access comes and goes with the tide.  I’ve got the extender on the top of about 8 feet of PVC conduit with the conduit stuck on the top of the mast but it needs to be just a little higher.  We have a connection pretty well all the time but there are a few times during the day when its really flaky.  I think another few feet will likely make a huge difference. 

Finding a charger for the bow thruster batteries turned out to be more of a challenge than I had expected.  My first stop was Philbrooks in Sidney because they were so helpful during the Webasto furnace adventure last winter.  And they tried to be helpful again although it was clear that they don’t install 48 volt systems and had never actually seen one either.  That’s really strange because my understanding is that higher voltages are preferred for thruster installations and Philbrooks definitely claims to be a high end yard.  I wasted quite a bit of time there and then went to my favorite chandler, Waypoint Marine who is just down the street from Philbrooks.  We came up blank there too but he suggested I try some of the power wheelchair places around here.  Given the number of senior citizens on the Island the only business better than coffin sales is wheelchairs.  I struck out on the wheelchair stores though because they seemed to be staffed by fools who knew that their wheelchairs came with a charger and couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to buy just a charger.  And they seemed also uniformly clueless about the voltage of their chairs.  So I tried a couple of battery stores and hit the jackpot on the 2nd call.  The guy actually had one in stock and didn’t want to argue with me about what I was doing or why or how – he was just happy to tell me he had a 48 volt charger and how much it was worth.  Gotta love that attitude.

The 48 volt battery charger worked a charm but before I figured that out I had bought another one identical to the original online.  The one I bought first is intended for a power scooter.  It charged the batteries just fine but it didn’t seem to want to go into float.  When a multi-stage battery charger starts out it pumps a huge amount of amps into the batteries but over time the charge should decline and eventually the charger should stop trying to put anything into the batteries.  Cheapo chargers like you buy for $25 at Canadian Tire don’t do that which is why, if you leave them attached for long periods of time, they will eventually boil your batteries dry.  I thought that was what this one was trying to do but it turns out that the batteries were just so badly drained that it took longer to bring them back up than I thought it would.  I’ve spent most of my time the past two days in the engine room and this morning I noticed that the new charger had gone into float mode.  That’s a relief but I had already bought another OEM charger online so ultimately we’ll have a spare, which isn’t all bad anyway.  We’ve got spares for pretty well everything else onboard so why not that too.

Everybody else in Cow Bay appears to be heading south to Melacque for a winter vacation.  I don’t think their departure time is related to our arrival but it certainly seems like it might be.  While its warmer here than it would be on the prairies its none too warm nonetheless.  Today I’m trying to refill our water tanks but may end up stymied by the fact that the dock water connections are frozen up.  Right now (4:00 boat time; 2:00 local) there is water running about 200 feet away from our spigot but I’m afraid the thaw won’t make it to our slip before it starts getting colder again.  There was even a hint of ice floating around the marina earlier this afternoon.  There must be enough fresh water dumps into the bay to allow the surface to freeze.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

29 degrees of separation

So it was –17 Monday morning when we left Regina.  I know this because I checked the thermometer in the truck after I froze the shit out of my fingers getting the satellite dish strapped back on the truck.  We had removed it the day before while we took the truck through a carwash.  We were bringing so much stuff to the boat that the only place left for the dish to travel was strapped on the back deck which left me out in the dark cold Monday morning. 

Wednesday night as we drove off the ferry in Nanaimo we happened to notice that the thermometer read +12.  Now +12 isn’t all that great either but its one hell of a lot better than –17.  It was raining, of course, its BC after all.  But it felt wonderfully warm.

Gray Hawk was still here although many of her slip mates have moved on.  Gary sounded a bit worried about that – its obviously better for him if people come and stay so he doesn’t always have to be finding new tenants.  I went for coffee Thursday morning to get caught up on all the local gossip and activities.  The most exciting thing that we missed was the sinking of the barge. 

It sounds like it was a major adventure.  The barge complete with crane showed up sometime about the end of May.  A couple of young guys owned it and used it to transport the docks and ramps that they build locally out to wherever they were to be installed.  The barge wasn’t very big and the crane was pretty small as cranes go, one of those old yellow cab affairs that would have originally been on tracks or maybe on the back of a small tandem truck.  When the barge started to sink it pulled the dock partway under with it.  At some point the boom on the crane swung madly around and got entangled in Joe’s rigging.  Then it sounds like they tried to pull the barge free and eventually succeeded in sinking the barge and dismasting Joe’s boat.  I’m sorry I missed it.  Barry said that when they hooked onto the barge with the tug many in the crowd watching agreed that the fun was just beginning.  And it sounds like that was absolutely the case.  Gary is still missing the end pier on that side because both of the pilings snapped off underwater during the adventure.

So now we’re back onboard and the boat seems to have survived our absence with remarkably few ill effects.  We left some butter in the butter dish and while it still looked OK we didn’t want to risk it.  Otherwise everything seems exactly as we left it.  Of course it has been raining ever since we arrived but we have lots of time so I am avoiding outdoor jobs.  We’ve grown a serious coating of green slime but I got the starboard side pressure washed during a brief period of sunshine and I’m holding out for more sun before I tacked the port side and the decks.  We loaded our dinghy on the foredeck before we left because I had seen British Mike maneuvering too many times.  With the dinghy hanging on the davits I was pretty well certain he’d either wipe it out or get hung up in the davits if we left it there.  It was a big job getting it winched up onto the foredeck and I have a feeling getting it back in the water will be even harder.   It is however still in one piece and the davits are undamaged so perhaps my efforts were worthwhile.

Today we have to go bottle wine that we started in early July.  Its been resting in an oak cask since September.  It was ready to bottle in November but Pat said she could keep it in the cask for a while so she did.  If there’s any benefit to the oak then it should be really good stuff.