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Monday, May 31, 2010

5/31/2010 - Swamplands

Well, it finally happened: the grand opening of the new Swamplands Exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It's been in the works since we shut down the Oddwater Exhibit around the 1st of the year. And, although I'll only see about a month of it, the exhibit will be here for the next 18 months.

Opening weekend had some extra added attractions in the form of even more creatures, many of which had nothing to do with swamps but were cool anyway. Brad's World Reptiles in Corvallis is supplying all of our Swampland critters and he and his staff were on hand all weekend to show and talk about lots of other snakes, lizards, tortoises, frogs, and even a couple of macaws.

Our resident American Alligator, Jose, is about 6' long and will not be out where he can be touched by visitors. But Brad brought along Big Al and Little Al to entertain the crowd. These are both American Alligators and are about 4' long although they are 20 years old. Alligators, like most reptiles, grow in proportion to their food supply. So, although these two are only 4' long at 20 years of age, one of the others he brought is about 7' long and is only 8 years old. Big and Little Al are purposely kept small for use at school assemblies and such. At one point I got to relieve one of the handlers for awhile and I had Little Al sitting on my lap so visitors could pet him and see what he feels like. He is very used to this kind of treatment and is very laid back

The most impressive critter we have on display is also the hardest to photograph because she's so darn big.

She's a 15' long, 95 lb. Anaconda. This picture was taken from about 5' away and all you can see are a couple of her mid-section coils. The part of her body you're looking at is roughly 10" in diameter. She and a 6-7' long male are kept in a round tank that is about half full of water. Anacondas spend most of their time in the water. And, although these accommodations are way more luxurious than they enjoy at Brad's, it's still a fairly small space. The snakes get intertwined and it can be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins at times. She is reportedly pregnant. I'm not sure how long the gestation period is but she'll give live birth to about 20 babies approximately 18-20" long. That'll be an interesting sight to see. As soon as they're born, Brad will remove them and take them back to his place for raising.

My charges for the first half of the day were two African Spur Thigh Tortoises, a male and a female.

This one is the female. They're also about 20 years old and should live to be 70-80. Not sure what they weigh but I had to move the male once to get him into petting reach for small children and he must have weighed at least 80-85 lbs. People were allowed to touch them and it was my job to talk about the tortoises (the captive population in the US now outnumbers the native population in Africa - which is not to say that they're being exported - they are just bred here in huge numbers, for the pet industry primarily) and to protect them from insensitive louts and grabby kids. And to mention to Mama that it's always a good idea to use the conveniently-placed hand sanitizers after touching any of the animals.

This was my last weekend with a regular shift at the Aquarium. Starting next Sunday I will take part of my shift to bring a couple of our swamp creatures out for the public to be able to see up close. I'll be doing this once on the AM shift and then again on my regular PM shift. After showing the animals and then taking care of putting them away, I'll be free to spend the rest of the shift covering whatever part(s) of the Aquarium I want to (I'll be a wild card). The animals I have available for showing are: two Colombian Red-Tailed Boas, two Burmese Pythons (one of which is an albino), a Florida Soft-Shell Turtle, a Red-Eared Slider Turtle, some Grey Tree Frogs and an Alligator Snapping Turtle:

The snapper in this picture is out on display and is probably 3-1/2' long from tip of tail to tip of nose. The one I'll be handling is considerably smaller, thank goodness.

Baby Burmese Pythons and their empty egg "shells". These guys are about 2 weeks old and quite aggressive. The two colors shown here are the same as the ones we'll be showing. The lighter ones are the albinos.

t was a fun but tiring day. The crowds were really big, as expected and everyone was pretty excited about the new exhibit.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

5/30/2010 - no blog today

Sorry folks but it's been a really long day. Spent from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM at the aquarium helping with the opening of the Swampland exhibit. So I'm too pooped to blog. I did get some good photos though and I'll do a blog about it tomorrow.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

5/29/2010 - Karaoke

Maybe I should just rename this blog "I Don't Get It". Maybe I'm just turning into an old fart but there are just more and more things I don't get.

This evening we went to the opening of the Swamplands exhibit at the Aquarium. It was, by the way, WAY COOL! There were extra animals there that will only be on exhibit this weekend. They're not part of the regular exhibit. Lots of snakes, a few cool lizards, some tarantulas and even some hissing cockroaches. But more about that Sunday after I finish my shift.

The point is, we knew we were going to be running late so we decided to have a couple burgers at Hoovers for dinner rather than cooking and having to clean up and all. As you may have figured out, we generally go to Hoover's for dinner every Sunday after my shift at the Aquarium. Sundays are very mellow. Pretty much the same folks are there, the music isn't blaring, plenty of time to shoot the breeze with Deb & Richard.

As it turns out, Friday evening is nothing like Sunday. Matter of fact, Friday is karaoke night. We've never been karaoke fans and actually have only witnessed it one other time. Our impression was that it was just a chance for drunks to get up on stage. More of a hoot than anything else. But, if tonight was any indication, that's not what it's about at all. These people are actually serious. It's like they think there are talent scouts in the audience and they might get discovered. But they have got to be kidding!

Case in point: there's this guy who comes in most Sunday nights. Nice looking guy. He comes in, has one drink, a double shot of rum on the rocks with a glass of water on the side. Hardly ever says anything. Has his drink and leaves. Very mysterious. However, occasionally we have heard enough of conversations between him and other patrons to pick up the fact that the guy takes karaoke pretty seriously. Okay, maybe he's really good. I guess. But...

Well tonight we got to find out. The DJ for the karaoke session was pretty much of a dip. Lots of tattoos, black clothes, buzzed head, big shock of chin hair, black porkpie hat. He sang a couple songs that I, of course, didn't recognize. But the lyrics were shown on a big screen TV. Even though the words as sung were pretty much unintelligable, the printout on the TV showed that they were actually incredibly crude. I don't see how he was able to sing this stuff in public without dying of embarrassment.

But back to our rum drinker. This guy may not have been quite as old as I am but he's got to be getting close. So up to the microphone he goes. We sit, eagerly anticipating what song he's going to sing that will be so cool as to explain why he likes karaoke so much. Maybe a bluesy "Summertime" or possibly a dead-on version of "A Pirate Looks At 40", possibly some vintage Dylan like maybe "Ballad Of A Thin Man". Or, if he's really got some pipes, maybe a soulful rendition of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody". Well, he sang two or three songs and we had no idea what they were. They sounded like that soulless crap you're likely to hear on American Idol. Lame lyrics. No hook. No redeeming qualities at all as far as we were concerned. But he must listen to this stuff or it wouldn't appeal to him. His voice was okay but his song selection left much to be desired. And, not only did he choose these songs but he actually supplied his own CDs for accompaniment. So then I wonder, are there companies out there producing CDs of popular songs without the vocal track so that karaoke singers can sing along to them? Really? This is all getting way too serious.

Anyway, we'll never be able to look at this guy the same way again. Which probably bothers him not at all. I'm sure he doesn't sing karaoke to impress the old farts at the end of the bar. But I don't know. I just don't get it. Guess we've officially entered old fartdom. Matter of fact, there is absolutely no doubt about it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

5/28/2010 - Odds & Ends

Let's see, what's been going on?

Had to do some research into my battery charging system before I wire up the solar panels. I have a fancy-pants Xantrex charger as well as a Blue Seas ACR (automatic charging relay) and I think they may have been working at cross purposes because my starting batteries, although they appear to be charged, cannot actually crank the engine over more than once or twice. I disconnected the ACR to see if that will fix it but so far, no joy. Next step is to use the Xantrex charger to "equalize" my starting batteries. Equalizing, as I understand it, is forcing a high (about 16 VDC) charge through the battery causing the sulfate that's been building up during charging to slough off, restoring the batteries. Once I've done that and read some more stuff, I think I'll know enough to add the solar panels into the mix.

Changed out the shorter secondary anchor rode for the longer one as mentioned a few days ago. Also strung them both out so I could measure them and know once and for all how much rode I have and what the marks that a previous owner had made on the rode meant. Turns out the marks are spaced about 20' apart.

Lulu is working on making Sunbrella covers for the milk crates we use for various on-deck purposes. This will protect the contents from the sun (not a big worry so far but certainly one we anticipate having) as well as keep the contents in the crate when things get bumpy. Here she is wielding her hot knife:

She also made canvas covers for our spare diesel jerry jugs so they don't deteriorate in the sun. Now she's cutting holes in the covers so it's easier to grasp the jug handles.

We decided last night to quit going to our Spanish class. The class is pretty good but some of our classmates waste so much time arguing about fine points of grammar that have little to do with understanding what's being said as well as showing how smart they are by jumping ahead and disrupting the flow of the lesson instead of just doing as the instructor asks. They also have this overwhelming drive to try to translate everything word-for-word which just doesn't work. We feel that the class itself has become something of a waste of our time. We do enjoy the lessons that are e-mailed out every week and anticipate continuing to get them for awhile yet.

Tonight we're going to the members-only sneak preview of the new Swamplands exhibit at the Aquarium. It's going to be crowded but c'est a vie. We'll go back in a week or two, during mid-week when it's not as crowded. This is going to be an interesting weekend at the Aquarium. It's Memorial Day weekend and Swamplands is debuting. Should be quite a zoo, so to speak.

Got a new (to me anyway) Garmin g2 map chip for our chartplotter. Plugged this teeny little piece of plastic into the GPS and voila, I suddenly have detailed charts of California and the west coast of Mexico including both coasts of Baja. This stuff is amazing. And seductive. I can see how people can be cajoled into giving up paper charts altogether. But I guess I'm still enough of a Luddite to carry the constant worry that anything electrical can and/or will fail sooner or later. Maybe it's my Amish ancestry.

Just came back from the local metal fabricator (Halco Welding) where I bought a nice big piece of aluminum plate to use as a backing plate to the cleats I'm going to install on the foredeck for tying off the anchor(s) when they're deployed. The backing plate is like a huge washer. In order for the cleats to get ripped out of the deck, a very big chunk of deck would have to go too. Not very likely.

Speaking of anchors, I tried hanging our new Rocna on the bowsprit. On the first try I didn't much like the fit. It rubbed on the furling gear and just looked awkward. I had about resigned myself to having to haul it up on deck. But when I went forward to take some pictures for the blog, I brought it up to the bow sprit again and found, with a little finesse, it can be made to hang satisfactorily.

Now, when we head out to sea I may still bring it on deck. But for cruising around from anchorage to anchorage I think the fit on the sprit will be OK. I do have to tack a piece of metal to the bowsprit to protect the wood from the anchor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5/27/2010 - Shampoo

Anyone else tried this stuff:

Our friend Charlie who's rebuilding a beautiful 38' Alajuela gave us a sample bar a week or so ago. He drives truck for a living and so, spends a lot of time living out of an overnight bag. He said that this "shampoo" is also good as a general soap. It definitely limits the amount of crap you have to haul back and forth to the shower. This matters when you use public facilities and you can't just leave your stuff on the shelf until your next shower.

We gave it a try both as a shampoo and as soap and we like it on both counts. One of the nice things is that it's unscented. Just smells like soap. Kind of like Ivory.

Thank goodness for the internet. When we opened the bar Charlie gave us, I carefully peeled off the label so we could order more if we liked it. However, a mere week later do you think I can find the label? Hell no! But, remembering a few key things like "bar shampoo", "tea tree oil", and "hemp oil", good ol' Google led me right to where I needed to go (Amazon, of course).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

5/26/2010 - Boat history

Much of what follows was gleaned form the Abstract of Title from the USCG. It's public information available over the internet so I don't think I'm betraying any confidences.

Siempre Sabado was built by the Westsail Corporation of Costa Mesa California in February, 1976. I'm sure it took more than the month of February to build her so I suspect the hull number that shows her birthdate corresponds to when the hull was finished rather than the whole boat. Meter of fact, on looking at the paperwork closer, I see she was completed in February of 1979. She was hull number 20 of approximately 80-some W28s that were ultimately built.

As near as I can figure out from following the paperwork, her history went something like this:

She was originally built for and sold to an outfit called Wind Works, of Seattle, WA. I suspect this might have been a charter outfit. They owned her from 1979 to 1983. Although I don't know for sure what she was called during this period, I do know that at one time her name was Maalaea. And, in the photos of her for sale under that name she has Washington state registration numbers. Since Wind Works was in Seattle and the next owners hailed from Portland, I suspect that Maalaea was her original name.

In 1983 she was sold to a couple from Portland, William and Francine Hughes who owned her until they sold her to Robert and Sally Brewer.

Sometime in 1994 the Brewers appear to have sold her to Calvin and Sue Edwards.

A little over a year later, they sold her to Daniel Sullivan who changed her name to Sarah.

Mr. Sullivan kept her for about 3 years and then, in 1999 he sold her to Robert & Charlotte Martin who changed her name to Drifter.

The Martins hung on to her until Fall of 2006 when they sold her to David Tozer who changed her name to Sirena although he never got around to actually painting the new name on the hull.

A mere 6 or 7 months later, in April of 2007, we bought her and changed her name to Siempre Sabado.

Not sure why I care about this but I just think it's kind of cool to know our home's history. So, if any of the folks mentioned happen to be reading this, or if anyone knows any of them or remember someone who owned a Westsail 28 with one of those names, we would love to hear from them. We'd be interested to hear hull #20's history, where she's gone, what she did, when some of the improvements were added and why, etc. I know it's a long shot but, you just never know.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5/25/2010 - Facebook

Dear Friends,

Facebook, MySpace, Spacebook, MyFace, SpaceFace, Mybook, whatever....

I confess, I just don't get the social networking thing. I signed up for a Facebook account quite awhile ago. At the time it was for some specific purpose like getting access to a class reunion mailing list or something. Mostly I never visit my Facebook page because a.) I forget I have one, and b.) I usually can't remember which password I used. On the rare occasion that I do visit the site, I find it filled with stuff that I had no part in. Stuff about what other people are doing. Shouldn't that stuff be on their pages instead of mine?

I manage to stay in touch with everyone that I want to via e-mail and through comments on this blog, and by phone and even by actual face-to-face conversations. I guess I just don't need any more contact than that. So, I'm going to cancel my Facebook page, assuming that's something that the cybergods allow.

If you've asked to be My Friend (which is, in itself, kind of weird) and I haven't answered yet, it's not because I don't like you. I really do. Like you, that is. Whoever you are. I'm just choosing to back away from this particular aspect of the digitally connected world. Don't even talk to me about Twitter or Tweeting. As far as I'm concerned those are still just something that birds do.

Digitally yours,


Monday, May 24, 2010

5/24/2010 - Anchor rode

I tried. I really did. I tried to get all of my anchor rode stowed in the anchor locker. I installed a vertical divider so that I could stow two separate rodes. But it just wouldn't all fit. I was really glad that I had decided not to glass the divider in as I had originally planned. Made removing it so much easier.

Our primary anchor is a 15 kg (33 lb.) Rocna with 200' of 5/16" high test chain backed up by 250' of 5/8" nylon line. My secondary anchor is a 15 kg Bruce copy with 50' of 5/16" HT chain backed up by 150' of 5/8" nylon. Both of these anchors are carried on rollers on the bowsprit. Stowed under the V-berth is a 35 lb. CQR with 50' of 3/8" HT chain and 250' of 5/8" nylon (Hmmm...maybe I should swap those two rodes). Finally, in the lazerette we have a 10 kg Danforth with 50' of 5/16" HT chain and 150' of 5/8" nylon. So, although some of my rodes may be a skosh short, I believe we're pretty well fixed for ground tackle.

But, there's just no way that all of my primary and secondary rodes can be stashed belowdecks.

So today I threw in the towel. First I removed the anchor locker divider. Then I made the nylon-to-chain splice on my new primary anchor rode.

Then I stowed the primary rode in the anchor locker and relegated the secondary rode to a milk crate on the foredeck. Not particularly Bristol, I'll admit, but better to have it stowed in a milk crate than not to have the rode at all.

PS: A note on my use of the word "rode". The way I learned it, the thing that connects the stuff that's strung between the anchor and the boat is the "rode", regardless of what it's made of. I oftentimes read internet comments from sailors who reserve the word "rode" for line only. They might refer to having "100' of chain backed up by 250' of nylon rode". When I use the word, it refers to the whole length. So, my primary anchor has 450' of rode.

We were a little concerned as to how Siempre Sabado would respond to another 250 lbs of ground tackle stowed up forward. Well, it did bring the bow down a little, but not very much.

Oh yeah, I also got my other solar panel mounted today. Now comes the harder part: wiring them up.

5/23/2010 - Shower shoes

(note: if you read a version of this blog that was chock-full of typos, screw-ups and such, especially in the sidebar, please dump it and try this version instead. Thanks,)

They go by many names: flip-flops, zoris, go-aheads, thongs*, etc. But whenever I step into a publicly shared shower, they're 'shower shoes'. I was first introduced to the concept when I was in the Navy. One thing they didn't need onboard ship was a bunch of sailors sharing some sort of foot-rot. So it was drummed into us that you never take a shower in bare feet. It made so much sense that I have not been able to use a shower that is shared by people I don't know without wearing them since.

Frankly, I'm amazed that this habit seems to be shared by almost no one. Here at the marina, the shower stalls are separated from a small changing area by a shower curtain and the changing area is separated from the main room by another shower curtain. The curtain ends about 12" from the floor so it's not like I'm peeping when I see bare feet in direct contact with the floor. The changing rooms are also equipped with two coat hooks, a fold-down stool and a wide towel bar. So, why would anyone just dump their clothes on the floor? Am I just being queasy or is there something decidedly icky about putting your clothes or feet into the bacteria-laden stew that is likely to be found on any public shower floor? I don't even like the fact that my pant legs have to briefly brush the floor as I put my pants back on after my shower.

So, maybe I'm being overly picky but, after 59 years on the planet, including 4 years in the Navy and lots and lots of public showers, I have yet to contract any kind of funky foot fungus. On second thought, I did get the occasional case of athlete's foot in high school where we showered communally every day after gym class. And guess what? We showered barefoot.

*sidebar: The kids think it's really funny when I refer to this type of footwear as "thongs". Tee hee. But I guess I deserve it since I used to think it was really funny when the old ladies on my paper route saved "rubbers" for me. Of course what they were saving were the rubber bands that I wrapped around their newspapers. But anyway, back to the footwear. We mostly called them thongs. They cost about $0.99, were always made of rubber, and only rubber, and lasted almost a whole summer (never an entire summer). At the beginning of the summer they caused sores between your first two toes until you got used to them. They usually had small mud puddles on the footpad caused by sweaty feet and walking in dirt. Just when you needed them most, like when you were running for the ice cream truck or something, they would invariably blow out on you. A blowout consisted of the between-toe strap breaking just above the knob that anchored it to the sole. Once that happened, they were junk. Well, truth be told, they were junk from the beginning. But they served the purpose. Cheap summer footwear. Next best thing to being barefoot. Amazes me now to see how extensively they're worn ( not to mention how much they can cost!). I marvel at the young girls bundled up against the cold except for their bare feet clad only in "flip flops". Alternately they wear shorts and a tank top with a pair of Uggs. WTF?

And speaking of the name "flip flops", as I said before, we usually called them "thongs". Sometimes just "sandals", rarely "zoris" and I only occasionally heard them called "go-aheads". But "flip-flops"? Please! I don't think we ever called them that. Sounds way too much like baby talk. Glass of wa-wa anyone?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

5/22/2010 - Force of habit

When we first bought Siempre Sabado, she was equipped with an electric pressure water pump. Just like at home, you could open a faucet and water would flow. Of course at home the pump was located down in the well so we could only hear it running if we were out in the shop at the time. But on the boat the pump was only about 5' from the galley sink so it was easy to tell when anyone turned the water on. That pump was loud. And obnoxious. We could have cut down on the frequency that the pump ran by installing a small pressure tank but we didn't want to dedicate the room to it. Besides that, we just didn't care for the system. Not only did it cause what we considered an unnecessary drain on our battery bank, but it wasted water as well. So, as all good remodelers do, we yanked that sucker out.

We knew from our experience on our first boat that foot pumps gave extremely fine control of water flow. They pump on both the down and up strokes and you can immediately stop the flow anywhere along the stroke by just stopping your foot.

We could have installed a hand operated pump but that's a hassle as anyone who has used one of those public restroom faucets where the water stops flowing as soon as you take your hand off knows. Don't you hate that? You have to rinse one hand at a time while the other operates the faucet. Very inefficient.

However, there is a downside to a foot pump. We've been using ours for over a year now and it's caused us to develop a potentially embarrassing habit. So, if we're ever visiting at your home and we walk up to the sink and assume this position:

with our left foot sort of flailing around trying to find a purchase, please just pretend you didn't notice. We'll figure it out in a second.

Friday, May 21, 2010

5/21/2010 - Tidying up (cont.) again

Remember this picture?

This is what it looked like when I got back from the Aquarium this afternoon:

Had to use Velcro on the corners on this one because there wasn't enough meat left to screw the common sense fasteners into. But, since the crosspieces will provide the necessary beef, the Velcro is actually a better solution for this space as it needs to be accessed much more often than the ones previously shown.

5/21/2010 - Solar vents

I have to give a big shout out to Nicro Ventilation for their Day/Night Plus solar vents.

I installed 4 of the 4" units at least a year ago. One is over the V-berth, one over the aft seat of the settee, one in the head to exhaust compost gases, and one in the lazerette. They come with two fans so you can set them up either as exhaust or intake ventilation, as you choose. And, although they come with a removable grill, I don't think they fit all that well. Besides that, they attract dirt and dust, impeding airflow. The grills are definitely not needed for safety as reaching the on/off switch requires you to stick your finger up into the revolving fan blades. The switch is above the blades. But, since the motor doesn't have any real torque, this is not a safety issue. I've chosen to remove the grill altogether.

By the way, the fan was actually turning when I took this picture but the shutter speed was fast enough to "stop" it.

Even in Newport, we get enough sun, to run the fans all day and charge the built-in battery enough to have them run all night as well. OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I guess that's not entirely true. In the dead of winter the fan ran all day and part of the night although it was turning pretty darn slow by bedtime. But they run all night now. Of course we're only a month away from the longest day of the year, but still...

During most of the last 6 months the vent over the v-berth was covered by the upside-down dinghy, rendering the fan useless. The vent was still open but there was nothing other than convection and outside breezes to cause any airflow through it. Occasionally I would wake up to a cold drip of water caused by my breath condensing on the porthole directly above my pillow. As soon as I removed the dinghy, the fan started turning and I haven't been dripped on since.

These units are rated to move 1000 cu. ft. per hour.

Our composting toilet requires continuous airflow in order to dry out the compost and allow efficient aeration of the bacteria. A in-line fan is provided that runs off our house battery. But, since a vent was still required, I figured why not add a little extra air flow without any more drain on the house batteries. So I installed a Nicro vent on a dorade:

I didn't use dorades on the other vents because by pushing up on the tube that surrounds the fan, you can close the vent off. So if we get seas aboard, we can keep the water from entering the cabin by closing the vents. But, since the one in the head would be connected directly to an air discharge hose, it would be tough to open and close the vent. So I built a dorade instead. For those not familiar with dorades, they are a box with a partial baffle in the middle dividing the front and rear of the box. If water enters the vent, it'll fall straight down and is kept from entering the cabin by the baffle. It then drains out the half circle holes you can see directly below the Nicro. Air simply travels over the top of the baffle and then down through the hole in the cabin top.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

5/20/2010 - Solar Panel

I finally got one of my two solar panels hung up yesterday. Still have to hang the other one ad then do all the wiring but at least I've gotten started. Actually I'm ahead of schedule on this. We didn't actually plan to be able to afford solar panels for another couple of months. But with the money that Lulu made sewing cushions we were able to buy the anchor chain, freeing the anchor chain money up for solar panels.

First, I had to figure out where to mount them. Stern pulpits, side rails, dodger and bimini tops, and stern arches are all common mounting spots.

Well, our stern pulpit is already full of stuff (outboard motor, BBQ, Lifesling), all of which would have to be moved and all of which have similar mounting requirements as the panels.

We don't have any rails beyond the bow and stern pulpits. It's all wire lifelines after that and you can't hang the panels from flexible lifelines.

Our dodger isn't big enough and we don't have a bimini. And we definitely don't have a stern arch like the one on the Westsail 28 in this photo (those rectangular things way up high are the solar panels):

Obviously I was going to have to make something. I decided the best idea was to parallel the first length of lifeline forward of the stern pulpit with a 1" stainless steel handrail. This would give us somewhere to mount the panels and also add a little more security in the cockpit. Without having some custom welding done, I couldn't just parallel the lifelines because, although it's easy enough to find fittings to use on the 1" stanchion at one end, attaching a 1" horizontal piece to the 2" boom gallows upright at the aft end was going to be problematic. So, after tossing and turning in bed a few nights, I finally decided to take the path of least resistance and not try to attach to the boom gallows. Instead I would install another vertical stanchion. I'm sure that's about as clear as swamp water so here's a couple of pictures instead:

Lifelines are still in place so this is just redundant safety. At the aft end, where it looks like I used rope to tie it to the boom gallows, it's actually tarred marline. I ran about 5 loops of marline to connect the handrail and the gallows and then tightened the whole thing up by wrapping more marline around the loop. The pieces are now bar-tight. They're just there to stiffen things up and are not really intended as safety features. On the bottom piece I finally remembered how to macrame so it came out with a nice running spiral. The top piece is sort of a floundering embarrassment and will have to be redone. Otherwise I'll just have to tell everyone that Lulu did it.

So, with that done, all that was left was to actually hang the panel. I installed 4 lengths of aluminum angle (3/4 x 3/4) to the back of the panel so that I'd be able to attach my hangers anywhere along the height of the panel that worked best. For now, I'm just using electrical conduit clamps (4 per panel) to attach to the rail. I'm not entirely convinced they'll be strong enough in the long run but that's about all that was available in Newport. They'll work for now until I find something better.

And, finally, the finished product. We be lookin' salty now, eh, mate?

5/19/2010 - Tidying up (cont.)



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5/19/2010 - Tidying up

Some time ago, we revamped the under-sink cabinet in the head to make it easier to access what was underneath. It was originally equipped with 2 sliding doors. Without removing the doors we could only access half of the space at a time. The trouble was, in order to turn the seacocks (valves separating the briny deep from the inside of our boat) on or off, the whole space had to be open in order to be have enough room to get into the proper boat yoga pose (thanks for reminding me of that phrase, Livia) and get enough leverage to turn the valves. The doors were easy enough to remove but the whole set-up just seemed kind of clunky to me.

Normally I strive for some fancy woodworking fix that usually doesn't work in the first few iterations. I generally end up with a relatively simple fix that does work. This time, I looked for the simple fix first. I'm not quite sure what made me think of a fabric fix (maybe it was the fact that it meant that I didn't have to do the work), but I did and, when I suggested it to Lulu she was enthusiastic. Out came the ginormous Sailrite machine. Within a very short time we had our fix in place:

The cover is made of Sunbrella and the corners are fastened with common sense fasteners (that's really what they're called). More on that further down the page. This fix has worked really well. It's easy to get into the space if needed and, if something off the top shelf is needed and you know about where it is, you only need to unfasten one corner.

On with the story...

From where Lulu sits in the evenings, this is what she sees:

Even though this is pretty much what the kitchen in our house looked like, it was a bit larger than the boat and so, didn't look near so jumbled. One day she was saying that she would really like to find a way to make the place look tidier. I suspect a big part of the impetus for this thought was our visit to another boat, a Union 36, that is owned by the folks who bought our Sailrite sewing machine. Their boat was big enough that everything was able to be stowed behind a closed door. It was all very neat and shipshape.

Our galley did originally have sliding doors:

But when I remodeled I opted to leave them out, because it seemed like they just made things hard to find. Well, that and they're hard to make if your cabinet face frame isn't perfectly square, which mine definitely wasn't. I did put provisions for putting a restraining bar across the openings to keep things where they were supposed to be when the boat is heeled over 15-20 degrees from vertical. But, frankly, looking at it later, it was pretty clear that a lot of items could probably slip under the bars.

So, what to do about the messy look and the need for restraints? No longer having a shop, I don't automatically go for the woodworker's solution any more. Buying a bigger boat seemed like kind of an overkill solution. We needed to think of something else.

And then it hit me. Why not do the same thing we did in the head? Lulu liked the idea and got to work with the design. Out came the Singer Featherweight (the Sailrite machine was no longer our shipmate) and a roll of Sunbrella fabric. This morning we tried the first one on for size.



And, if it gets really rough:

The corners were fastened with the aforementioned "common sense fasteners":

There you have it. A simple fix that lends an air of tidyness to the ol' saloon.

BTW, if you ever come across this tool while you're out an about, buy it.

It's a pilot hole maker by Stanley. I've never seen another one and don't remember where I bought this one. It rode in our camper toolbox for years. If you've got the right size screw and the wood isn't too hard, you can make threaded pilot holes with this little gem a lot quicker, and with less mess, than you can pull out your cordless drill. And it can get you into some spots that the drill won't fit. There, my "tool tip" of the day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

5/18/2010 - The good outweighed the bad and the ugly

Went to town today to get some supplies; mostly stuff for mounting our solar panels and also ingredients for haupia (google it). Not being in any particular hurry, we rode the 11:13 bus way up to the north end of the line and then partway back again before we got off. This was mostly just an excuse to visit with Perry, one of the bus drivers who we haven't seen often enough since she started working half-days. Of course, if her half-days were afternoons instead of mornings maybe we'd see her more.

Anyway, we went to Fred Meyer's and got a few groceries and then to Pro-Build to get the solar panel mounting hardware. Then we walked to the bank to get three rolls of quarters. Quarters, when you're living in a marina, are like gold. I've been known to leave a dollar tip when $0.75 would have been plenty just to hang on to my quarters. You need them for the washing machine and dryer as well as for the showers. At a buck a load to wash, another buck to dry and $0.75 for 5 minutes of hot water in the shower, we go through quarters pretty darn fast.

Now, it might seem like these errands are why we went to town in the first place. But that would be wrong. We went for 2 reasons: to visit with Perry and to partake of the the Uptown Pub's Taco Tuesday (2 for $1). So after our shopping that is where we went.

The bar was sort of crowded when we got there but there were a couple of stools at the end. Just as we were about to sit down, a guy came out of the bathroom and was obviously about to leave with his girlfriend(?) thus freeing up two better stools. Lulu asked him if they were leaving and he said "yes" but first he wanted to say hello to "her brother" (that'd be me). He shook my hand, squeezing way too hard as some guys are wont to do. Then he wanted a hug. Uh? Well, it's usually easier to just go along with drunks so I said, "well, I guess so". He then hugged me WAY WAY too tight and whispered something in my ear. At that point I shoved him away and said something like "Enough". His girlfriend(?) apologized for him and he asked her what he did wrong. "Did I hug too tight?" And then they left. Drama over. Listening to the chatter at the bar, I wasn't the first person he apparently took to. There was a nice young red-headed kid with lots of tattoos and apparently this guy was insistent on comparing tattoos. Everyone was glad when he left. According to Garth, the bartender, the guy was usually drunk or drugged and had just recently gotten out of "the joint". He kidded the red-haired kid that he probably just missed his red-headed cellmate. This was not so funny when I thought about the fact that he hugged me, showing no interest in Lulu at all. Creepy. (Though I'm really glad he didn't want to hug Lulu. He'd have crushed her.)

The rest of the visit to the Uptown went well. The tacos were just those simple hard-shell Taco Bell types, but for $0.50 each and with enough salsa, they were a damn fine lunch. The conversation got more fun after the ex-con left. Lots of shuckin' and jivin' and general kidding around. We even learned from the red-headed kid about a low-key reggae festival down around Marcola (near Eugene) in early August. Lucas, are you listening?

All in all, as the title says, the good outweighed the bad and the ugly (which just happened to be rolled up in one guy). We're just glad we got there when he was leaving instead of earlier.

By the way, I have a question for the braintrust that reads this blog. Garth brought out this gizmo that he couldn't identify and was soliciting ideas as to what it was for. I didn't have my camera so I couldn't get a picture but here's the description:

There's a slightly rounded bronze saddle with a double hook on each end. On one hook a chain is attached. The chain can be attached at any link, thus determining how long the working part is. The other end of the chain terminates in a threaded rod that comes up through a double hook on the other end of the saddle. A wingnut on the rod allows the chain to be tightened. So, you have a rigid device with a chain that can be wrapped around a pipe of various sizes and then tightened down. In the middle of the saddle there is a threaded hole. An air valve, like you find on a tire, has been threaded into the hole. Between the bottom of the saddle and the pipe (if that's what the chain is wrapped around) is a rubber gasket.

My idea: In the event that you have a pipe that needs to be repaired but has no shut-off valve and also no way to empty it, you need a way to stop the flow of water long enough to make the repair. So, you drill a hole in the pipe upstream of where the repair needs to be made. The hole corresponds in size to the size of the threaded hole in the saddle. You then place the saddle over the drilled hole (which is spewing water), wrap the chain around it, adjusting length for the size of the pipe, and then tighten the whole shebang down with the wing nut. You then either inject air through the valve to create an airlock in the line or maybe CO2 to freeze the water in the line (would that even work?), creating a temporary plug.

Any other ideas? Garth said it was an adjustable collar for airheads who were running a little low on air and needed to be topped off. He might be right.

Monday, May 17, 2010

5/17/2010 - It had to happen

I've often read that there are two kinds of sailors: those who have run aground and those who will run aground. Well, Lulu and I can now count ourselves among the former.

This morning we got up early and got ready to head across the bay to Englund Marine to pick up 200' of anchor chain we had bought. The idea of being out on the ocean doesn't really scare me at all, but docking and undocking gets my anxiety going. Single engine boats with full keels do not back really well to begin with. Or at least they don't until they get some way on. So there's always the very real possibility of hitting another boat either leaving the slip or coming back in. We've had pretty decent luck with Siempre Sabado so far, mostly due to its 27 horsepower engine and 3-bladed prop. But still I worry. So, when I woke up this morning I entertained myself by re-reading a few passages in "Boat Docking" by Charles T. Low. Once we got ready to get underway, I reviewed the plan with Lulu.

The reviews must have helped because we managed to get underway with absolutely no drama. Of course there was no wind, very little current and, most important of all, no audience.

So here we are tooling across the bay feeling pretty cocky. We're almost to the entry into the breakwater that separates Englund and The Embarcadero Marina from the bay when I feel the boat unmistakably lift up a bit. I knew immediately that we had run aground. I shifted into reverse but it was already too late. The momentum of 7 tons of boat had had planted us well and truly in the bottom mud/sand. The tide was going out and indeed there was only another hour and a half until we reached low tide which just happened to be a minus tide (-1.9'). It was now about 8:15 AM and low tide would be at 9:39. There was really nothing to be done but wait for the incoming tide to lift us off the bottom.

How did this happen? I thought I was watching the depth sounder and chart plotter closely. As it turns out, whoever installed the depth sounder must have had it adjusted so it told the water depth instead of the amount of water under the keel. Personally, I'm not particularly concerned with the actual depth except as it relates to me running aground. So, when the depth sounder said 4.5' I assumed there was 4.5' BENEATH the keel. But since the boat draws 4.5'+, we really had ZERO feet below the keel.

Since we were sitting there with nothing to do but wait, I pulled out the book and followed the directions to set the offset so that 4.5' would mean 4.5' beneath the keel. Then, just for good measure, I readjusted it to 5' to give us at least a little bit of slack. Another thing you might notice in looking at the picture of the GPS is that, right next to where the icon for our boat is, is the number "1". Notice how I managed to find the only "1" on that part of the chart? If I'd been a few feet to the left or right we would have floated right on by. This "1" is the depth of the water at mean lower low tide. Having recently been poring over NOAA charts, I was thinking that this number was fathoms (1 fathom = 6 feet). So, if the mean low low depth was 1 fathom (6') and the tide was -1.9', the low tide depth should be 4.1'. Obviously this is still not deep enough to float our 4.5' deep boat. But the truth is, I hadn't noticed the "1" until after we ran aground since my sounder kept showing me that I had 4.5' of water (which I almost did, it just wasn't beneath the keel).

Now to compound the screw-up even further, the soundings on this chart are in FEET! NOT FATHOMS!! This makes a huge difference. I may run aground again but I won't make that particular mistake again.

So, the water flowed out and we proceeded to lay over on our side. We were never completely dry so the maximum angle we heeled was about 23 degrees. Felt more like 45. But we never took any water over the downhill side and, although somewhat chagrined, we were never in any danger. In this next picture, I held the camera parallel to the floor. See how the coats and notepad and inclinometer seem to defy gravity? Now tip the photo so the coats are straight up and down and you'll get an idea of how far over 23 degrees is.

Well, by 11:00 we were finally floating enough to back off into deeper water. We then went on in to Englund, got our chain and departed their dock as pretty as you please. However, our docking back at our marina was somewhat less than pretty. Matter of fact it was downright ugly. If I'm not lined up right the first time, it's really hard to get back into position without smacking any other boats. Fortunately we managed to not smack any boats but we did get a nice little rubber abrasion from a dock across the way. We decided we need to get out and practice more.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5/15/2010 - He ain't heavy, he's my music collection

(note from the author: if it seems like I'm really digging deep to come up with subjects in order to do an entry every day, well that's because I am. However, the discipline's good for me and you don't really have to read every word I write if you don't want to. I'll understand. Especially if you don't tell me. -SRY)

Lulu and I have always been big music listeners. There was always music going whenever the TV wasn't on. And even sometimes when it was because we would occasionally turn the sound down and the music up. Watch the pretty pictures without the need of listening to the inane prattle. Our very first purchase after we got married was a stereo. Bought it on time. We figured this would be a good way to get our credit history started. Lucas is still using our original speakers and receiver (a sweet old Marantz). Of course, after we bought the stereo we didn't really have enough dough left for records (remember those?). However, Columbia House made us a deal we couldn't refuse. For only a penny we could get something like 13 albums. Okay, there was a small requirement that we had to buy a certain number of albums at the regular price in order to get that deal. But that wasn't really all that bad for us as we generally lived in places where good record stores were hard to come by.

Our first "entertainment center" consisted of a sort of glorified bookcase that I built out of particle board. Come to think of it, "glorified" is definitely not the right adjective. It was just wide enough to support a turntable on top, the receiver below that, and our 13" Sony Trinitron TV below that. On the bottom was a space for records. It was awhile before I was able to fill that 16" wide space.

By the time we moved to Silverton, I was deep into MAS or Music Acquisition Syndrome. I built an entertainment center there that had a 5' long shelf for records. My goal was to fill it. And, by golly, I did it and then some.

About that time, they started phasing records out and trying to phase CDs in. Not about to jump on some new untested bandwagon, I stubbornly turned to cassette tapes and collected an impressive number of those in addition to all the records. By now we (or at least I) knew we wanted to move onto a boat someday. In light of this, the phasing out of records was really a blessing. Can you imagine how much weight and space a decent record collection would take up on a small sailboat? Not to mention the difficulty in keeping the needle from skipping. You'd have to tape a quarter (instead of the usual penny) on top of the tone arm to keep the needle in the groove.

So, on our first boat we had an AM/FM/Cassette player and it worked out just fine. Cassette storage was a lot easier than record storage.

It was quite awhile before I allowed myself to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of CDs. The kids used to give me a lot of grief for being such an old fart. But, hey! I wasn't about to let them force ME to buy into their oh-so-obvious plot to make us all recreate our music collections in a new format. But eventually I threw in the towel. And, of course, once I folded I started collecting CDs in a big way.

But the real breakthrough for me came when they started making blank CDs that we could record on. I pretty much forgave the money-grubbing music industry at that point. With a little bit of equipment and some software I was even able to convert all of my records and tapes to CD format. By the time I was done I had well over 1500 albums, er, CDs. Now CDs are a LOT easier to stow on a boat than records would have been but that's still an awful lot of potential storage space and additional weight.

And then along came the iPod. Sweet, sweet iPod. It's almost as if Steve Jobs had boaters in mind. Right now we're listening to a random mix of music on our 160 GB iPod Classic plugged in to our iPod-ready Sony AM/FM/CD/mp3 player. This little beauty has somewhere around 15000 songs on it! I have music on my iPod that I have never listened to. Every so often a song will come up and we'll wonder where the heck that one came from.

But what if the iPod dies you ask. First off, bite your tongue! But in the unlikely (I hope) event that she does die, all is not lost. All of the music on my iPod is backed up on a my computer's removable hard drive. But hard drives are notorious for crashing you say. Geez! What a pessimist. But, okay Mr. Buzzkill, if the hard drive dies, I happen to have my entire collection recorded in mp3 format on DVDs and safely stowed at Cody's house. Since they're mp3s, each DVD holds about 100 albums so, if she had to mail copies of them to us it wouldn't be too bad. And, before you ask, she also is safeguarding the original CDs as well. This includes the analog-to-digital CDs of my record and tape collection which were recorded in AIFF or whatever the native CD format is.

So, all this to say that I'm a huge fan of the technology that allows me to keep a collection of over 15000 songs on a box the size of deck of cards that's only 2 suits thick. Similar technology has allowed me to keep a large collection of movies on another removable hard drive.

So, since I embrace all this tailor-made-for-boats technology, why am I having such a hard time buying in to the whole digital books/e-reader deal? Part of it is the price. I'd be a lot less resistant if the readers were closer to $100 or, better yet $50, and I'm sure they'll get there. But it's not just that. Cheap and/or free books are really easy to come by. I guess some of the e-readers can use some of the free books out there as well as the digital books offered by some libraries. But I just can't picture curling up with an e-reader. What if it craps out and I have nothing to read? The horror! I realize that this is stupid. Just because I have an e-reader on board doesn't mean I can't have any books. What if my stereo craps out? All I'd have left is my ukulele. Imagine the storage space we'd regain if we got rid of all but one shelf of books. I'd have more room for my photo albums. Oh wait, I don't have any of those anymore since the advent of digital cameras.

Boy, if one of those EMF bomb things ever go off, we are so screwed!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

5/15/2010 - Swamplands

On Memorial Day weekend, the Oregon Coast Aquarium will be opening their new Swamplands exhibit. Besides the full-time exhibits, OCAq has a "traveling" exhibit that changes every couple of years. In the past there have been exhibits about jellies, frogs, bats, etc. Swamplands will be trying to educate visitors about the importance of swamps in general by focusing on cypress swamps, mangrove swamps and the South American Panatal swamp. The exhibit will have lots of reptiles, fish and amphibians including red-tailed boas, Burmese pythons, piranhas, alligators, an alligator snapping turtle, a Florida soft shell turtle, a red-eared slider, grey tree frogs, and, possibly most impressive of all, a pair of anacondas:

This big girl (the males are considerably smaller) just arrived the other day. I haven't even seen her yet. And, although I have been training to handle some of the critters, this is NOT one of them. They have developed a very specific, safety-oriented feeding protocol, etc. for her so we don't end up having job openings in the animal husbandry department.

I do get to handle the boas, the turtles and the pythons and am looking forward to opening weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

5/14/2010 - Clothes storage

I'm a fanatic for finding and using "wasted" space. Maybe that's why Siempre Sabado now rides about 4 or 5 inches deeper in the water than originally designed. But everything has to go somewhere and it's up to me to find the "somewhere" in "nowhere".

As originally built, our boat had a hanging locker ("closet" for you landlubbers) and a chest of drawers for clothes storage. Not really having any hang-up clothes and needing more storage I proceeded to revamp the setup. This picture is not of Siempre Sabado but rather of a sister Westsail 28. On our boat the bulkhead that here separates the drawers from the hanging locker is actually further aft so that the drawers and hanging locker become one piece of furniture. But this will still give you the idea:

Our drawers were set up just like this. The top 4 are drawers and the bottom is a swing-down door. You can see how the hull curves in toward the keel. Now, if the drawers had backs on them that followed this curve everything would be jake (well, there'd still be wasted space on the sides and in between the drawers, but it wouldn't be as bad). But that's not how they were built. Instead, the drawer backs were parallel to the fronts, just like you'd find on any normal piece of furniture. Of course this meant the each drawer had wasted space behind it. Further, as I tore into things I found that the hanging locker also had a back panel that was parallel to the front of the cabinet. Again, wasted space. If you didn't need the extra storage, this space would actually be beneficial as it allows air to circulate behind your clothes and keeps the clothes from touching the hull where condensation can get things wet and moldy before you know it.

Here the drawer dividers have been removed and you can see the false back separating the drawer compartment from the hull. The hanging locker also had this same false back.

In these two photos you can see how I cut access holes in the false back. I didn't remove them completely because the remaining pieces still lend rigidity to the cabinet. I've also cut and fit the shelves. To avoid the aforementioned soggy moldy clothes, I cut pieces of closed cell foam, the kind they sell for backpackers to sleep on, and press-fitted it between the clothes and the hull. Seems to work pretty well.

With some new doors and some plastic bins for corralling the small stuff, we now have ample storage for all of our clothes (except the jackets, which hang on hooks across from the cabinet).