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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8/31/2010 - Ratlines revisited

It was a beautiful day in Charleston today. By the time I crawled out of bed at 9:30 the fog had lifted and the sun was shining. It was even warm-ish. Might have even been a good day to get underway but we didn't. We're still getting used to being back on the boat. Have to remember where everything is again. Decided we'd take care of chores first and still plan on maybe shoving off on Thursday.

Today, I finished redoing the ratlines on the starboard side. Not sure if I wrote about it earlier but the ratlines have been bothering me. You may remember that the way I attached them to the shrouds was basically to clamp them in place using a nut and bolt on each side of the shroud. Worked great but it left these 2" pieces of wood sticking out on each side beyond the shroud. This meant there were 32 possible places for lines to hang up on or sails to chafe against. I kind of knew this but was in a bit of denial until Steve Webster at Riverbend Boatyard in Newport said it out loud. I knew I had to change the setup.

I pulled out my trusty "The Rigger's Locker" by Brion Toss and studied how he said to do it. I didn't follow his suggestion to use 2 rope ratlines for every 1 wooden one since I prefer all wood rungs and since they were basically all built already. I took down all the ratlines and took them with me when I headed back to Cody's house earlier this month.

What I had to do was to a.) glue both faces of each rung to its mate, b.) cut off the end of each rung bisecting the hole that went around the shroud so that I'd end up with a groove instead of a hole, and then c.) drill a hole parallel to the groove but 1-1/2" to 2" in from the end to take the lashings. Having use of my chop saw and Shopsmith made this project way easier than it would have been on the boat using hand tools.

Yesterday evening I mounted the first 2 rungs and today I completed the rest of the ones on the starboard side. The following photo shows how the rungs are lashed to the shrouds:

I hate those little knotted ends sticking out. Two of them will be eliminated along with the double constrictor knot they're attached to but there will always be one. Brion says to finish of the wraps with a couple of overhand knots, pulled very tight and then back that up with a figure eight to use as a stopper. He says to work the figure eight up tight against the overhand knot but, try as I might, I could never get it to snug up and stay put. The double constrictor knot was just something I added. I was having some trouble with the rungs wanting to slip a little when I really put force on them when tightening wraps on a higher rung while standing on a lower one. I was essentially pulling up with my arms while pushing down (on the rung) with my feet. It was almost inevitable that there'd be some slippage. So, I added a double constrictor knot around the shroud just below the wraps as a sort of collar to keep the rung from slipping down. It didn't work - the constrictor knot slipped as well. Tomorrow I'm going to get some good old fashioned friction tape and wrap the shroud where I'm going to make the lashing. Hopefully that will help. If this was galvanized rigging, I'd serve the entire length which would really help, and help the rigging last a long time, too. But stainless steel needs oxygen so service would be a bad idea.

I prefer this photo since it doesn't show the little knots:

The bolt is there just to reinforce the face-to-face glue joint and to keep the lashing from splitting the wood. In Brion's example he uses solid (not glued) wood but still uses a copper rivet to prevent splitting.

The ratlines are plenty tight and tough enough to support a person doing normal things aloft like navigating through coral heads or trying to spot a whale. But, as noted above, they are likely to slip when excess force is exerted on them. Consequently, it would be great if I could have installed them from the top down. But I didn't see any workable way to do that. As a result, I ended up redoing probably half of the lashings before I was all done. In this photo you can see that I still have one left to straighten up:

In case you can't tell, it's the aft end of the second one from the bottom. Needs to come up about 1/2".

But, just so you know that these "lash-ups" really can carry the load:

Until later, ta-ta from Charleston.

PS: Although I know it's unlikely that any of you would think that Lulu is just idling her time away while I'm working my fingers to the bone, I should mention what she did today. She spent the better part of the morning and part of the afternoon getting things stowed, cleaned, and squared away for our next leg of the trip. Then she got out the scrub brush, scraper and Simple Green and got to work on the ugly dirt and gunk we got when we were side-tied to B dock when we first got here. What a scrungy spot that was. We warped the boat across to the empty slip on our starboard side so she could clean the worst side of the boat easier.

Monday, August 30, 2010

8/30/2010 - Back on the boat

Just a quick note to let you all know that we are back on the boat in Charleston and our lives have returned to normal. We left Scott & Cody's house this morning about 9:20, drove to Eugene where my folks took their pickup back and toted us back to Charleston. Been reading a blog by folks who are making the same trip we are and ocean conditions sound favorable by their accounts. We have a couple things to do here (get groceries, refasten the ratlines, replace the incandescent running lights with LED running lights, general clean-up) and then we should be good to go. If conditions stay good we could be out of here as early as Thursday.

We had a great time in the valley with the kids but it sure is good to be home again with nothing scheduled.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

8/29/2010 - Whew!

This was originally going to be three separate entries but, what with the whirlwind of activity that surrounds the preparation for even a casual wedding, there has been precious little time to blog until now.


The first entry was going to be titled "A Man & His Meat" but I was afraid that might not make it through all your various porn filters so I was going to change it to "It's In The Bag".

The results of over a week of almost constantly breathing smoke from the poor old overworked Brinkman Pitmaster Deluxe: 50 lbs of cooked, de-boned, mostly de-fatted pork. There were also two more bags (about 8 lbs.) of smoked turkey breast that I made for Scott's mom because she can't eat pork but the breasts were on the pit when I took this photo. I also made 14 half-pints of habanero jelly. This seemed like overkill at the time but I've had several requests from friends who wanted a jar to take home. Amazingly, by the time all the spoken-for jars are distributed and the 2-1/2 pts that were used at the reception are factored in, there are only 3 unspoken-for jars left.


The next blog was going to be titled "Honey, I Ruined The Wedding Dress!", starring Lulu.

Lulu and Scott's mom, Janet, worked together to build Cody's wedding dress. Lulu did the bodice and Janet did the skirt. Then, since it didn't fit quite as well as Cody would have liked, Lulu did a little modification and then ultimately had some fancier mods done by a seamstress in Mt. Angel. Once it was fitting right, she brought it back home and made even more modifications (a bride can get pretty picky about how her dress fits).

Finally, on the Wednesday before the Saturday wedding, the dress was done except for hand sewing some beadwork around the neckline. Lulu's in the dining room with the dress and the ironing board for one last pressing and I'm in the kitchen washing some dishes. All of a sudden Lulu exclaims, "Oh my god! I ruined the wedding dress!". Now, I'm not too shook because Lulu tends towards hyperbole. So I finished what I was doing, dried my hands and then looked over the counter. "Oh my god! You really did ruin the wedding dress!"

Right there in the middle of the front was a big iron-shaped hole just like you'd see in an "I Love Lucy" rerun.

Lulu said she thought the iron was in the OFF when she set the heat to a low setting. Instead she was starting from the HIGH position so she only decreased the temp from HIGH to ALMOST AS HIGH when she made the adjustment. As soon as the blazing hot iron touched the dress, it instantly melted. The lining was unscathed but now what? You can imagine how freaked out she was. Here she's got a dress that has been 3 weeks in the making and, with only 2 days to go, it's virtually ruined. Fortunately, Cody was at work during this calamity or it would have been traumatic to the nth degree. After Lulu calmed down a little we assessed the situation. Maybe it wasn't so bad. There were only two panels involved so, if she could rebuild those it should be okay. She was lucky the she still had enough fabric on hand to do this and still had most of the day to get it done before Cody got home from work. And, since Cody had stuff to do after work and wouldn't get home until late, all the better.

So, she spent the next 6 hours or so undoing and then redoing what she'd already done.

Ultimately it all turned out alright as you'll see in the next section titled:


Friday evening was nuts. Scott's family (Dad & Stepmom, Mom & boyfriend, 3 brothers along with 2 wives and 4 kids, 2 sisters along with 1 husband and one kid, a stepsister and child, a stepbrother, a cousin and her husband and child (I'm sure I've forgotten someone), along with Lulu and Lucas and I and, of course Scott and Cody were all here at the house. Amid all the hubbub we managed to get the bridal path strewn with bark dust (actually 'hog fuel' but bark dust sounds less crude somehow), set the benches up so they weren't too tippy on the sloped ground and so that everyone would be able to see the bride and groom, decorate a ton of cupcakes and mini-cupcakes and get various other pre-wedding stuff done. I don't know what all went on in the house, I just know that it was a flurry of activity every time I entered. After dinner, things calmed down a bit, at least relatively speaking. Eventually much of the family went home although we still had 11 overnight guests. Well, we started with 11 but sometime around 2 AM, Scott's brother Casey must have decided to take his brood home as they were gone when we got up Saturday morning. So, including Cody & Scott and Lulu and I, there were 11 for breakfast yesterday.

One thing we've apparently been successful in passing on to Cody are some of the things that work when dealing with large groups of people. Over the years we've had many events at The Shire which included overnight lodging for up to as many as 30 people. One of the most important tactics is how to deal with breakfast. You could just put out cereal and milk and let everyone make their own bowl whenever they get up and at it. But cereal is expensive so we rarely went that route. Our solution was pancakes. The batter is relatively cheap and easy to make. Don't have enough? Takes all of a minute or so to make more. The griddle can be kept warm and pancakes can be made as each person or group of people finally arrive at the table. So, in true Woodstock-at-the-Shire form, the Saturday morning crowd was fed blueberry pancakes using blueberries that Scott, Cody & Lulu had picked earlier in the week.

I had gotten up early and headed down to Lulu's old kitchen at Silver Crest school. Mark, the principal, had kindly agreed to let Lulu use the kitchen to prepare for the reception. She baked all the afore-mentioned cupcakes there and I was using the massive oven to heat all the BBQ meat back up. Once the meat was all in the oven at low heat I headed down to town to pick up a few last minute items that we had forgotten.

The wedding was scheduled to happen at noon. About 11:00 I headed back to the school to pack up the meat in coolers to keep it warm. I also loaded up the salads and such that had been stored in the refrigerator at the school. By the time I got back home, guests were already arriving. I changed my clothes and then it was time to get started.

Cody & Scott had cleared out an area behind the house in which to have the ceremony. I have to hand it to them. They took on a task that we would never have even considered. When you look at the pictures, notice all the brushy growth just outside the grassy area. That's how the now-grassy area looked before they got started. They uprooted salal and vine maple that has been growing there for years and years. And then they rototilled the area. And flattened it. And seeded and watered it. And finally, if it weren't for the moles, ended up with a very pretty park-like setting for their wedding. The benches and hog fuel managed to distract from or cover up most of the moles' work. They also cleared a long path through the woods for Cody and I to walk up during the ceremony. The weather was perfect and the setting was beautiful.

The ceremony itself was short and sweet.

And then it was over, except for the picture-taking.

You'll probably notice a lot of folks wearing jeans and other very casual attire. This is just how Cody & Scott wanted it: very laid-back and comfortable.

After photos we headed down to Silverton's Coolidge-McClaine Park for the reception. An advance team had already gone down to get things set up. The serving table was heaped with pork, sauces, buns, potato salad, cole slaw, a couple different pasta salads, carrot-raisin salad and Capt. Dad's Spicy Tex-Mex Salad, as well as cupcakes. Everything was ready. But wait, seems like something is missing. What could it be? Plates? Forks? Napkins? Nope, we've got all that. Sandwich makings? Salads? Nope, we're well covered on those fronts. Oh wait! What the heck are we going to serve the salads with? Crap! We forgot the serving spoons! Since it's a 15 mile drive back to the Shire, Lulu opted instead to go to Goodwill and buy a bunch of spoons. But, before she actually started the truck, she remembered that our friend Rosie lived within a block of where we were parked. Rosie wasn't home but her husband Dan gladly loaned us serving spoons. Hope Rosie didn't have a bunch of salds to serve when she got home because I don't think Lulu left her much of anything to serve with.

Okay, now we're ready. But wait a minute. Isn't there supposed to be something in that empty punch bowl? Crappage! We forgot the drinks! Wait, let's amend that. They forgot the drinks. Lulu and I had ours: a half case of Milwaukee's Best Light (yeah, we're a cheap date) on ice. Since Cody's new family are almost all Mormons, some other libation was in order for them. So we sent Lucas to Safeway with a fistful of cash and orders to buy bottled water and pop until the money ran out. Then Janet, Scott's mom, went to the store and bought a bunch of cans of pink lemonade concentrate. Of course, we never found a water source at the park to make the lemonade with so most of it went unmade. I think a punchbowl's worth was made up but I'm not sure where the water came from (melting ice? bottled water?). So, along with the pink lemonade concentrate that was forgotten at the Shire, Scott and Cody now have at least 2 dozen cans out in their freezer. Good thing Scott professes to love the stuff.

The reception was unusual in that a couple of traditions were missing. The emphasis was on having a good time and visiting rather than doing things traditionally. Probably the most obvious missing element was the wedding cake. Instead of a regular cake, S & C opted for chocolate cupcakes with white frosting decorated with a little red frosting flower. I had built these tiers to display the cupcakes. On each of the 10 tables was a tri-level tier that held 10 cupcakes: 5 on the bottom, 4 in the middle and 1 on the top. Then, on the serving table was a much larger tier that had about 6 levels and must have held close to 100 cupcakes altogether, some full size and some minis. Altogether Lulu baked 212 full size cupcakes and 93 mini cupcakes. This really worked out well. No one had to wait for the cutting of the cake, no cake got shoved into the spouses' faces for phot ops, and everyone could just help themselves whenever they wanted. Sorry that I don't have any photos of the cupcake display.

Another tradition that was skipped but not missed (at least by me) was the tradition of toasting the bride and groom. Maybe some people like these but we aren't among them. Apparently Cody and Scott aren't either. Good for them.

Also missing was any music at the reception. We talked about it and my opinion was that, if the music was loud enough to hear, it made visiting difficult. And if it was low enough to allow conversation, you couldn't hardly hear it anyway. So, we opted to skip it. And, as a bonus, skipping the music meant that we didn't have to have the traditional first dances. Neither Cody or Lulu or I like to dance very much and certainly not with everyone watching. Matter of fact, Cody's so shy most of the time that I'm amazed she got through her wedding ceremony with everyone looking at her. Anyhow, we got to spend our time at the reception just visiting with family and friends rather than anticipating doing things that make us uncomfortable.

After what seemed like an unusually long reception, we returned to a blissfully peaceful Shire and watched Cody and Scott open gifts before they headed up to Portland. Today they are on their way to LA where they'll board a Princess liner for a week's cruise along the Mexican Riviera with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. We, on the other hand, are enjoying a very quiet house. Lucas will be heading back to Portland later today and then it'll be just Lulu and I again.

Tomorrow we'll return the pickup to my folks in Eugene and then they'll drive us back down to Charleston. So, by tomorrow afternoon, we'll be back home on Siempre Sabado ready to continue our voyage south. It's been a crazy August starting with the reunion in The Dalles and ending with Scott and Cody's wedding. It's been good to have lots of time to watch how Cody & Scott interact with each other and to get to know Scott better. But it's going to be great to get back to our normal lives.


Capt. Dad's Spicy Tex-Mex Salad

Mix together:
1 lb. frozen corn
1 can medium pitted black olives, drained
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 small can chopped jalapenos
1 diced bell pepper
2 diced tomatoes.
1/4 finely chopped red onion (or 1/2 bunch chopped green onions)
1 lb. cooked breakfast sausage, crumbled up
1/4 cup sour cream
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Monday, August 23, 2010

8/23/2010: I sold our boat!

Okay, hopefully that headline didn't cause anyone to blow coffee out through their nose or anything although that was , obviously, the intent. Clearly I'm not referring to Siempre Sabado. No, the boat I sold yesterday is the first motorized one I ever bought. We had a 12' fiberglass canoe before that and she was actually our very first boat. In 1985 or 86 the Silverton Public Works Department organized an employee fishing trip to Oregon's Suttle Lake for a weekend. I returned home after the weekend repeating my standard mantra: "I must own a (fill in the blank with whatever the latest toy I played with was)". A month or so later I bought a 1947 fiberglass Mobilecraft runabout, or whatever you call the regulation open boats that you see all over lakes and bays. She was in rough shape so my next project was to restore her to her original beauty. I installed new oak gunwale clamps, built new pine seats (one with a toolbox under it), added a small oak foredeck so there'd be a dry spot to stash a jacket or something, and then gave her a spiffy new two-toned white over blue paint job. She was a beauty.

And then I used her maybe 3 or 4 times. That's the story of most of the toys I buy.

But the real story here is about the outboard. It's an old Evinrude "Fisherman". I don't have any idea how old it is but the styling of the cowl says early 60s to me. It's a 6 horsepower two-cylinder 2-stroke. Looking at the registration on the boat, it's obvious that neither boat nor motor has been used since 1990 and I'd guess 1988 or 89 is probably even more accurate. The boat was bargain-priced because, over the years she had fallen on hard times and was in deplorable condition. Two of the three seats were gone, the varnish had mostly flaked off, the paint on the inside of the hull was flaking off, and she was generally not a particularly attractive little craft. Once the gas cans and other crap that had been stored in her were removed and she was cleaned up a little she looked a little better. Her original sexy shape was still evident when you looked at her from dead ahead and slightly above or, even more so when you looked at her from astern. Her transom wasn't wide at the top and then just tapering slowly down to a v-shaped bottom like most of the aluminum runabouts you see. No, hers was a bit narrower at the top. It then widened out to a pair of nicely curved buttocks at the waterline followed by a very flat slope to the keel. It was a shape that said "Go ahead, stand on the gunwale, I won't tip over." But I digress...

Back to the Evinrude Fisherman. The guy who was coming up to look at the boat really wanted to see/hear the motor run. Well, that might present a problem since it hadn't been started in over 20 years. I tried to use the excuse that I didn't have a barrel or anything to mount it in to cool it while it was running but that was something that could be easily overcome if I really wanted to run the engine. So, I figured that there was no way anyone was going to buy the boat and motor without seeing if the motor ran so I'd better bite the bullet and rig something up and try to get it running.

I found a deep plastic bucket that, when propped up on a couple of concrete blocks and 4 x 4s, was tall enough to keep the cooling water intake nicely submerged. Now it was time to actually start the beast. I got the Evinrude gas can out of the barn where it had been sitting, full, since it was last used back in 1989 or thereabouts. I cleaned the accumulation of oily sawdust and dirt off the top and hose and carted it over to the boat. So now I had a 40+ year old motor that hadn't been started in over 20 years, hooked up to a can of mixed gas that was last filled over 20 years ago. If you read my entry titled "The Little Engine That Could" probably have an idea about what's coming. I connected the gas line to the motor and gave the priming bulb a couple of pumps. Oh crap! There are a couple of cracks in the fuel line just past the connector on the engine side. I took the cowl off to see if there was any extra fuel hose so I could cut the cracked section off and, miraculously there was. Not much, mind you, but probably enough. So I cut back to good hose and reinstalled it. Gave the bulb a couple more pumps, saw a few more small leaks but chose to ignore them. Pulled the choke lever out. Hey! It's not supposed to come all the way out! Like no-longer-attached-to-the-motor out. Off comes the cowl again. Oh, the choke lever just slipped off the piece it's supposed to control. No problem, just put it back on. Okay, choke out, fuel line primed with 20+ year old gas, give the starter a pull. Nothing. Again. Whoa! It actually sort of coughed that time. One more pull and it starts. THE SONOFAGUN ACTUALLY STARTED!!! Ease the choke back in and it's idling. IT'S IDLING! As in "not dying". I cannot believe this. Maybe I've paid my karmic dues with of all the fits that the 10 horsepower Saab engine on our first sailboat gave me. I don't know but I've never known outboard motors in general to be particularly cooperative. Now I've had two motors that should have probably never run again without major work and they both started up without hardly any fuss at all AND using old gasoline. Old mixed gasoline since they're both 2-strokes. I don't know. Maybe I'm living right. Or maybe I'm just incredibly lucky and shouldn't read too much into it.

Well, suffice it to say that the guy who bought the boat/motor/trailer got himself a hell of a deal. I didn't even charge him extra for the 6 gallons of vintage pre-ethanol gasoline.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

8/18/2010 - Yodersaground: bits and pieces

Haven't written much because there really isn't all that much going on. This afternoon I finished building the 14 benches for the wedding. So far I've BBQ'd six pork shoulders which yielded about 18 lbs. of pulled pork. I have 3 more shoulders on the pit right now as well as another three thawing for tomorrow. Couple days ago I made two batches of habanero jelly (16 half-pints) but, for some reason, it didn't set up so we have sweet habanero sauce instead. Actually it's a little easier to use for some things in the un-gelled state, Pectin is weird stuff sometimes. You never quite know if it's going to work or not until it either does or doesn't. You can do everything the same way you always do and every so often it just won't gel. Weird.

We've had guests the last few days. Tuesday, Lulu's cousin Treva came over from Idaho to visit and then last night we had her (Lulu's) youngest brother Jim as well as the next oldest brother, Joe and his daughter Emily from Iowa. Emily is starting her freshman year at Lewis & Clark College in a week or so and Joe was helping her get moved out here.

Lulu's been doing a bunch of work up here to get ready for the wedding: washing windows, cleaning the house, spray-painting the table centerpieces that I built, planting flowers, making hanging flower baskets, tending the yard, etc. The girl is tireless. Today she made bread and baguettes to go with the smoked steelhead spread that she made from the smoked steelhead that Treva's husband Jeff sent over for us from Idaho's Clearwater River.

Now that I've finished the benches, I can use some of my old shop tools for the boat. Awhile ago I built and installed ratlines on both sides of the mast. They work great but they have a couple inches of wood rung sticking out beyond the shrouds both fore and aft. This was so that I'd be able to clamp them to the shrouds with a bolt on both sides of the wire. However, it's obvious to me now that these "stick-outs" are going to foul the lines and chafe the sails. So, I dove in to Brion Toss' "The Rigger's Locker" to see how it's supposed to be done.

The upshot of his article is that the ratline rungs should all be inboard of the shrouds and lashed in place. So, I brought mine home and tomorrow I'll start modifying them so that I can reinstall them correctly.

Cody & Scott have been collecting open cell foam cushions for quite awhile now. The reason they do this is that they wanted to build a "blob". Apparently a blob is a big giant pillow for lounging around in while watching TV, etc. The other day they determined that they had collected enough. Lulu made the fabric enclosure per their specs. They had spent many many hours cutting the foam into cubes roughly 2-4 inches on a side using scissors. The night they decided to fill the "blob case" they still had some foam left to cut. As they were struggling away with their scissors I asked them why they didn't use a knife instead. "Oh, we tried that but it doesn't work very well." Unconvinced, I went out in the kitchen, got one of their hopelessly dull knives, sharpened it up using my favorite knife sharpener, and went back out in the living room where they were cutting the foam up. Putting almost no pressure on the knife, just letting the edge do the work, I sliced through the 4" thick pad like it was soft butter. Scott's eyes got very wide and then he wanted to try it. He was having so much fun slicing through the foam instead of trying to force the scissors through that pretty soon we had 3 more knives sharpened up and Cody and Lulu were slicing away as well. Hopefully Scott and Cody both will remember the value of a good sharp knife after we're gone.

Now, I'm a terrible knife sharpener. I CANNOT keep a constant angle when trying to sharpen a knife on a whetstone. That's why I resort to one of these:

I'm sure real cutlery aficionados will eschew my sharpener choice because it is pretty hard on blades. But, for a no-talent sharpener like me, it sure does a great job of putting an edge on even the most far-gone knife. And I'd rather have a few mediocre knives with sharp edges (maybe not finely honed, but sharp nevertheless) than a couple of great knives that I can't keep sharp using a whetstone.

Anyhoo, they finally got the blob case filled up and it's now a major presence in the living room:

It's very comfortable but it's kind of tough to climb out of and it really does fill up the living room.

Enough bits and pieces for today because Treva's cutting up the baguette so we'll be having that with steelhead spread here shortly and I need both hands free for scarfing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

8/14/2010 - Back in Silverton

I'm back at Cody's with Lulu to help get ready for Cody's wedding at the end of the month. It was a little bit of a shock since it was about 63 degrees in Charleston when I left and about 90 degrees here when I arrived.

Spent this morning out in my shop continuing on the bench building project.

It's great when the weather is such that I can throw open the big double doors and practically be working outside. In case you're new or weren't paying attention, Cody & Scott will be getting married in a little wooded clearing behind our old house (now Cody's house). Not wanting everyone to have to lug along their camp chairs, they asked if I'd make some benches for the guests to sit on. I said "certainly". Scott managed to score a bunch of 2X6 cedar from someone's dismantled deck. Some of it was rotten but a lot of it was serviceable. Last trip up here I ran as much as I thought I'd need through my (oops, not mine anymore) Dewalt surface planer. That got it looking pretty good. Rustic, for sure, but good nonetheless.

Today I cut out all the pieces for fourteen 8' long benches.

Naturally I didn't have quite enough wood milled so I had to go through the leftovers and see what I could find that I could plane down and use. Fortunately, I had no trouble finding what I needed. The reason I ran short was because, after I got to looking at how long an 8' bench is and then pictured it full of butts, it seemed inevitable to me that it was going to sag in the middle. So I had to cut some pieces that I could mount on edge directly under the seat to prevent the embarrassing sag and the irresistible photo op it would present.

But, all the pieces are cut now. I still have to rout the dadoes in the bottom of the benches to accept the legs but I built a little jig for that so it'll go fast. The only other thing left is assembly.

One down, thirteen to go. BTW, I'm not sure why my face looks like I'm disgusted. I'm not. Maybe that's just the face I get waiting for the camera's timer to finish.

Tomorrow, besides putting more benches together, I'll start smoking the pork shoulders for the reception. Every batch takes 12 hours or so so I have to start fairly early. So, if you smell smoke, don't panic. It's just me and my BBQ pit.

8/15/2010: Stupid dial-up

I actually wrote a blog entry yesterday and I'll probably write
another one today. But, since yesterday's had 3 photos, Blogo timed
out before the entry completely transferred. I'll have to wait until
I either go down to town and get wifi at the coffee shop or go over to
our good friends the Hupps who said I can park in their driveway or
sit on their deck and latch on to their high speed signal.

Just didn't want you all to think I was slacking off. Right now it's
8 AM and I'm the only one in the house who's up (besides Lulu and I,
Cody, Lucas and Julia are all here). In a few minutes I'm going to go
out and start the coals to start my alder-wood fire so I can get three
naked poek shoulders started on their 11-12 hour journey to smoky

Thursday, August 12, 2010

8/12/2010 - It happens every time

You work and work, fuss and fume, and finally fix something. Just when you're feeling pretty good about yourself, something comes along and smacks you down.

Like, for instance, as I wrote in yesterday's blog, I finally tracked down the electrical gremlin that was causing my engine's oil pressure alarm to act the fool. I fixed the fault, tested it, and everything was good. I felt so good about it that I blogged. Of course, longtime readers know by now that I'll blog about pretty much anything. Or nothing for that matter. But still....

So, here I am struttin' around with my multimeter and my sidecutters feeling like Reddy Kilowatt. Today's job was to run a heavier power wire to the new VHF radio/AIS that I installed some time ago. The reason for the power upgrade was that the radio kept giving me a "Lo Battery" alarm. And, by the way, I do know how to spell "Ready" and "Low", but the way I spelled them above is how they were actually spelled in situ. Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, the "Lo Battery" alarm. Well, since the radio is running off the house bank which is on the charger, how could there be low voltage? When I checked the terminals with the radio off, I had a good steady 13.4 (or so) volts. But as soon as I turned the radio on, the voltage dropped to between 7 and 10 volts. Sounds like a classic case of voltage drop to me. Seemed weird though, since the power wires that came with the radio were maybe 18 ga. and the line that fed them from the circuit breaker was 14 ga. But, there was no denying that the voltage was dropping. So, after procrastinating awhile I finally did the job. After all, how big a job would this be for Reddy Kilowatt?

So I ran a 12 ga. wire from the distribution panel to the radio. Did a very clean job of it (if I do say so myself), even installing a small terminal block instead of just tying the wires together. Sat back and admired my work and turned the radio on. Almost immediately it showed a "Lo Battery" alarm and began turning on and off as it does when it's in alarm. WTF??? I checked the voltage at the terminal and, sure enough, it was 7.7 volts. I repeat, WTF???

With very little else that I could do, I decided to try connecting to a different breaker. Fortunately I had one marked "Spare". I connected to it and voila, the radio worked and I measured 13.4 volts at the terminals with the radio on. So I relabeled the wires and called it good. I guess the next test will be to hook the wire that used to serve the VHF radio to something else and see if we still have the drop. If so, I guess it could be in the breaker. Is that possible? I have spare breakers but they are a royal PITA to change. Maybe not for Reddy Kilowatt, but certainly for me.

You're probably thinking, "Well, that's weird but it's hardly enough to make a big deal about." And you'd be right, if that's all there was. But, in what can only be described as 'cussedness', the Big Kahuna decided to thumb his nose at me just a wee bit more.

I got a chance to move the boat to a better berth this afternoon. So, although nervous since Lulu wasn't here to help me, I fired up the engine to make the move.

What's supposed to happen:
-Turn the key on
-The Low Oil Pressure alarm sounds
-Press the button to silence the alarm
-The alarm silences
-Press the "Preheat" button
-Turn the key to the "Start" position
-Engine starts
-Oil pressure builds up
-Oil pressure alarm silences

You already know what's coming, don't you?

Here's what really happened:
-Turn the key on
-The Low Oil Pressure alarm sounds
-Press the button to silence the alarm
-The alarm DOESN'T silence
-Press the "Preheat" button
-Turn the key to the "Start" position
-Engine starts
-Oil pressure builds up
-Oil pressure alarm silences
-And then, the alarm COMES BACK ON
-Alarm CONTINUES TO SOUND for the full 5 minutes or so that I was in transit
-But miraculously silences a little before I'm ready to dock

Mind you, the oil pressure gauge showed ample pressure throughout.

Okay, so tomorrow my list includes actually installing a new oil pressure switch. If that solves the problem, I'll report it but in a small modest voice.

In other boat news:

We're paid up here through August 28th. But of course we won't be back until a day or two after that. Then we need to watch for our weather window again. Hopefully they'll be more plentiful than they've been in August (although that wouldn't be too tough), but you never know. So I thought about paying for 2 weeks (at the daily rate) but 14 days is the break even point. That is, it costs as much for 14 days at the daily rate as it does for a month at the monthly rate. So I paid for a month. Now we're good until almost the end of September. I really hope we're not here that long but anything after the 11th is essentially free so we don't lose any money unless we leave before the 11th. And, if that's the case, it'd be money we'd happily forfeit.

While paying my moorage I asked if there might be another slip we could use, especially since we'll be away from the boat for the next couple of weeks. Didn't like the loss of privacy that side-tying causes; didn't like being moored between HUGE steel fishing boats; and the water and the dock were both really cruddy. We have a big black smudge on the starboard side I guess from the fender transferring dock crud from the dock to the boat as it rolled around. And the swell was terrible as boats came in and went out. Fortunately the staff took pity on me and gave me a regular slip but advised that I needed to move the boat right away because a bunch of sports fishermen were coming in for the Oregon Tuna Classic this weekend and would tie up wherever they found a spot. So, even though Lulu wasn't here to help, I went ahead and sucked it up and moved the boat solo. I did get help from a person on the dock at each end of the trip but all in all, I think I did pretty well (careful, Yoder!). I really hate docking and undocking but I have to get over it. Today helped a little.

Oh, yeah, and just so you won't think we're just a couple of big pansies when we complain about the weather, even the commercial fishermen are griping. They go out because they have to to make a living but they're saying that they're getting their butts handed to them every time they go. So far they all have mentioned what a weird summer this has been for ocean conditions. I just finished listening to the Coast Guard's bar report for the Coos Bay Bar and right now, the conditions are so bad that the bar is closed to all recreational craft under FIFTY FEET! So there.

Okay, enough.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

8/11/2010: I found the culprit!

I started out the day kind of floundering around. The misbehaving oil pressure alarm which has been joined by a misbehaving glow plug relay had me a little stymied. I disconnected a few connections and cleaned them but of course, that didn't really fix the problem, nor did I expect it to. I was just stalling.

Finally, I studied the drawings and pulled out my multimeter and got busy doing actual logical troubleshooting. It's really nice to have accurate drawings.

I eventually got to the point where a wire that shouldn't be energized was, but not with the full 13 volts but rather with about 10 volts. "Hmmmmmm," says I, "Most curious." I kept tracking and sure enough, I found the culprit.

The engine components are connected to the control panel via two wiring harnesses. To make it easier to install and/or remove the engine, the wiring harnesses are broken in the middle and then connected back together with a multi-pin plug like they use on trailers. One of the plugs has 4 pins and the other has eight.

The battery power was on the terminal with the red wire. Right across from this terminal was one with a black wire which was energized only when the ignition switch was in the ON position. Or, at least, that's how it was supposed to be. When I pulled the connector apart, this is what I found:

Well, actually that's how it looked after I dug a little chunk of what looked like molten copper from between the two sockets. I figure that what happened was that some seawater got between the two halves of the connector and caused a short between the red (hot) socket and the black (switched) socket. The intermittent current flow undoubtedly caused some arcing which results in high temperatures which probably melted some of the copper in the socket and made a more or less permanent, high resistance connection between the two sockets.

My fix is not as elegant as the 8-pin connector, but I was able to use stuff I had on hand and it's a lot less likely to have the same problem again.

I'm so glad to have actually found something specific to fix. Otherwise, if all I did was clean things up and the problem went away, I'd always be on edge waiting for it to come back.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

8/10/2010: Back onboard

Lulu stayed behind at (daughter) Cody's to help get the place ready for the wedding on the 28th. But I needed to get back to Siempre Sabado to make some repairs so she's ready to go as soon as we get acceptable weather after Cody's wedding.

So I set out bright and early in the pickup that my folks are still letting me borrow. I stopped off at Norvac in Salem to see if I could get a DC-to-AC inverter. I wanted one of about 1000W that I could hard-wire in on the boat. All we need it for is recharging the computers, the cell phones and occasionally running the vacuum cleaner. Well, Jim at Norvac didn't have one but he directed me to "Batteries Northwest" with a "tell them I sent you". I drove over to the store and was sent into the back room where the inverters were kept. They had smaller ones from 100W up to 800W. Then they jumped up to 2000W. Well, since even 1000W is a bit of overkill for me, I decided to go for the $79.95 800W model over the $279.00 2000W unit. Then I dropped the "Jim from Norvac said to tell you he sent me" line. Well, I'll be damned if it wasn't good for another 10% off. And, when it was finally rung up, the 10% turned in to $9.95 so I got the 800W inverter for an even $70.00. Not too shabby.

Then I had to divert to Newport as my friend Jay from s/v Wind Raven had their friend James pick me up a really big dry bag with shoulder straps and a padded waist belt from Costco in Eugene and they were holding it for me. After getting the bag and visiting for a few minutes, I headed back to the truck via the transient dock. I was pretty sure I spied a Westsail 32 over there. Sure enough there was a very pretty W32 named "El Gitano" (The Gypsy) from Sedro-Wooley, WA. The companionway was open so I knocked on the hull and was invited aboard. I explained that my name was Steve and that I had a Westsail 28 that was currently sitting in Charleston, OR and was interested in how the weather was coming down the coast. The owner, Doug, told me a little about his trip (it was rolly) and then asked my last name. I said, "Yoder". His eyes lit up and he said, "And Lulu, right?" I told him he was right. He said he's been following the blog and even said he was "stoked" to have run into me. I felt like a minor celebrity. You just never know who's out there reading this stuff. Anyway, I'll probably see Doug and Jody again soon as they plan to leave Newport tomorrow morning bound for Coos Bay, or, probably more accurately, Charleston.

I finally got back to the boat about 4:00 PM. It was in pretty good shape except that the dirty harbor water is leaving a scum line on the new bottom paint. That and the cabin just felt sort of damp. When there's no one living on the boat, it just seems to "dampen up" a little. Maybe because there's no one turning heaters on and opening the companionway and so on.

There was also this weird ticking noise. At first I thought it was outside but whenever I stuck my head out, the noise went away. I tracked it to the engine room but was a bit bumfuzzled since nearly all the breakers were open (OFF). But I kept following the sound and finally found that it was coming from the glow plug relay on the engine. The only way I could find to stop it was to disconnect the plug on one of the engine wiring harnesses. Then I tried hooking the alarm wires back up but, as the alarm started to sound right away, I disconnected the other engine wiring harness and everything was quiet. Guess I know what I have to tackle first tomorrow. I believe that at this point, the most likely culprit is the engine control panel. It's a common denominator and also took a couple of not-quite-direct hits during the trip down. Guess I'll pull it out and then take the heat gun to it to see if I can dry out any moisture that might be acting as a switch. I'll also install the new oil pressure switch as long as I'm in the engine room.

My other jobs this week are:

-Refasten the forward base on the bow pulpit and then readjust the lifeline tension. Something lifted the bow pulpit (could have happened when docking as I have a tendency to kiss pilings with the pulpit), pulling the forward screw about an inch out of the bowsprit platform. Doesn't look like I can through-bolt it so I'll have to use a fatter and/or longer screw instead.

-Install the engine compartment access door hold-downs that I'm designing as I go along. If they work I'll post some photos in case some other Westsailors might want easier cockpit access to their engine rooms.

- Install the inverter.

-Run heavier power cables to the new VHF radio so it'll quit giving me "Lo Battery" alarms.

Well, that's about it for now. Sure feels good to be back on the boat. It'd be better if Lulu was here but she's not. It'll be nice when we're back on our regular schedule, such as it is.

Monday, August 9, 2010

8/9/2010 - Yodersaground: The reunion winds down

Things are beginning to wind down here in The Dalles, Oregon. Saturday was the big day for the "cousins' reunion" and Mark & Tracy's house was overflowing. Yesterday, many of the celebrants headed home so Sunday was a quieter day. Lulu accompanied cousins Roger, Willy, and Mike, along with several of their kids (although I'm not exactly sure which ones went) on a tour of the Maryhill Vineyard and Winery. I went with Tracy, her kids and Willy's son, Jake, to Hood River to watch the kite boarders and wind surfers. We also stopped at Mike's Ice Cream for some treats. Hood River has really adapted to the influx of people that the windsports bring. The place had the air of summer about it and made me think of it as "Santa Cruz on the Columbia", but without the roller coaster.

Mark and Tracy have been the best hosts you can imagine. To have this many people staying at their house for so long and yet never blowing their cool is amazing. They own and operate The Baldwin Saloon so you know the food was always amazing: fajitas, fish tacos, steaks, prawns, oysters, blackberry pancakes for breakfast, etc, etc. Last night was declared "cook's night off" so aunts Nancy and Alice treated us to Chinese take-out. One thing there has been no shortage of is food.

Lulu and I will be heading out about 11:00 or so. Time to get back to the job at hand: Cody & Scott's wedding.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

8/7/2010 - Yodersaground: What goes good with pulled pork?

Once again flattery got the better of me. We visited (cousin) Mark & Traci several years ago and brought along some pulled pork and some habanero pepper jelly that I had made. Our favorite version of a pulled pork sandwich is a toasted, buttered hamburger bun slathered in habanero jelly and then piled high with pulled pork. Turns out it's Traci's favorite version as well. So, the other day when she mentioned it, we immediately ran to the store for the makings: a dozen habanero peppers, three red bell peppers, some sugar, white distilled vinegar and pectin. Then we returned to Mark & Traci's and made up and canned about 7 half-pints of habanero jelly.

In other reunion news:
Yesterday Traci, Lulu, Willy (my cousin), Caitlin (Willy's daughter), Jake (Willie's son), Roger (my cousin, Willie's brother) and Joseph (Mark & Traci's oldest son) went on a rafting trip on the Deschutes River. It was a guided trip so all we had to do was follow directions and hold on. We drifted downstream for about 2 hours. There were occasional rapids of various intensities although none above class 3. Good thing it was nice and hot because we got very wet. And not just from the river splashing on us. Turns out that a tradition among the rafters is to attack each other with water guns. And these aren't the little pistols that we used to fill from the garden hose. No, these were basically bilge pumps made from lengths of PVC pipe and, wielded properly, they shoot a big stream a long ways. Of course, we had been forwarned and were properly armed, but we nevertheless got extremely wet. But we gave as good as we got.

We stopped for lunch after a couple hours and then proceeded on. The second half of the trip was also about 2 hours but on this leg we got to do a class 4 rapid. And, we had three options on how to run it. We opted for the version that included a drop off of a 7' waterfall followed by some frantic paddling. We did good and didn't lose anyone. At almost the end of the trip the guide told us all to be sure and get secured because we didn't want to lose anyone at this point. Yeah, he HAD to say it. Sure enough, we hit one last rapid and wham!, both Lulu and I were ejected from the raft. no harm as we came back up right alongside and got hoisted back aboard, but still...

Well, today is the big day since everyone who hasn't already arrived will. So, as the crowd swells, I'll sign off.

Adios fromThe Dalles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

8/4/2010 - Yodersaground: Pullin' pork

So, after a casual (or was it?) remark in an e-mail from my cousin-in-law, Traci, yesterday, I was off to the store to buy pork shoulders. I came home with 3 of them with an average wight of about 7.75 lbs. Knowing that "low and slow" cooking takes a long time, I immediately got busy. Well, "busy" as it relates to BBQ is sort of a loose term. What I mean to say is I fired up a half a chimney of charcoal to light my wood fire and preheat the smoker.

Once the coals were going good I put them in the firebox of the smoker and topped them with a couple sticks of well-cured alder cut right here on the property several years ago. The shoulders went directly into the smoking chamber on top of a sheet of heavy duty foil. No rubs or mops. I tried using a rub once but in my experience the flavor only penetrates the first 1/4" or so (if that) and much of that ends up in the wastebin since it's mostly fat. I've never used a rub since the first time and have never missed it. The smoky pork, salted to taste, is plenty flavorful on it's own. I also used to use a "mop" to keep things moist. But that requires the lid of the smoker to be opened, losing heat. Instead, after the first 4 or 5 hours of smoking, when the meat has probably absorbed about as much smoke flavor as it's going to, I loosely cover the meat with foil. It's loose so some smoke can still get in, but it seems to help keep things moist and to protect the pork from occasional blasts of higher heat, especially the shoulder closest to the firebox. Also, at this time I swap the end shoulders so that the one that has been furthest from the firebox is now closest and vice-versa.

The cooking proceeds with me just adding another stick or two to the fire every hour or so and watching the thermometer and adjusting the damper so the temperature in the smoker stays at around 250°F. At that temperature, the pork cooks for about an hour and a half per pound. Mine took a little over 11 hours last night. This means it was done at midnight. At that time, we were not in the mood to spend another hour pulling (shredding) the pork and then having to deal with all the clean up. So, I wrapped them in foil and stuck them in an ice chest. It's now almost 9 hours later and the inside of the ice chest is still very warm (and smoky-smelling). The added benefit of doing this is that it allows the pork to maintain an intenal temperature of around 185°F for a long time. This is the temperature that the connective tissue breaks down at, making the meat just that much more tender. At least, that's what I was told. Whatever the truth, it sure does come out good.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I really like BBQing. This kind of BBQing, not just throwing a burger on the grill, although that has it's charms as well. The smells, the fire-tending, all of it just screams "SUMMER" to me. Some people love their Traeger pellet smokers. They love to load up the pellets, plug the unit in, set the thermostat and timer and walk away. I prefer the more hands-on approach that my Brinkman barrel allows me. And at less than 1/6 the cost of the smallest Traeger and the ability to burn wood that I've cut myself, to me it's more what BBQing is all about.

And it looks like I'll get my fill this month. Cody & Scott were planning on serving chicken at their reception. But last night as we discussed the logistics: getting that much chicken, having enough grill space to cook all that chicken at the same time (because it's best right off the grill and it takes so long to cook), toting all those BBQs down to the park, being absolutely sure the chicken is done, etc., the logic of doing pulled pork instead sounded promising. I can cook and shred the meat ahead of time and then just heat it in the oven at home and transport the hot meat to the park in foil in an ice chest. No grills have to be moved to and from the park and no grill clean-up has to be done on the big day. And it's cheaper (I got my shoulders yesterday for $1.28/lb.). And it's way cooler. So, if you happen to be one of the people coming to the reception, listen to some Delta blues on the drive to Silverton and then get your tastebuds tingling for some good smoky pig meat.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

8/3/2010 Yodersaground

So here we are high and dry at Cody's house (our old place). We'll be here through August except that next week I'll go back to the boat for a few days to fix some stuff. Among the stuff to fix is that pesky low oil alarm. I bought a replacement switch and, looking at it, I suspect that the electrical connections that I thought were shorting weren't even on the switch. Not sure what they were on but I guess I'll find out next week.

Been checking the coastal weather since we've been up here and so far it looks like we aren't missing any great travel windows. The combined seas are still in the vicinity of, if not exceeding 10' with a very short period. This equals steep waves which, as we now know, are quite uncomfortable.

While we've been up here at Cody's we've been doing various chores. Scott & Cody had cleared an area up in the woods where they want to have their wedding ceremony. They levelled the ground and planted grass seed. Lulu has taken over the management of the plot so she's now in charge of the watering schedule. She's also working on Cody's wedding dress along with Janet, Scott's mom. My job is to make table centerpieces as well as a bunch of benches to seat the wedding guests.

Scott brought home 4 chickens the other day so he and Cody have been spending a lot of time getting the old chicken house back to its original purpose as well as making a little outside area for the chickens. Last night they learned how to clip their wings. We always enjoyed having chickens and suspect that they will too.

Tomorrow we're heading up the The Dalles for our 3rd cousins' reunion. Haven't seen some of these folks for many years so it should be fun. I've ben hearing noises about barbecuing when we're there and, after I recived an e-mail from my cousin Mark's wife, Traci, mentioning how much they enjoyed the pulled pork I brought them a few years ago, I immediately jumped in the truck and went to the store to get some pork shoulders (Boston butts). So, I now have about 25 pounds of pork on the BBQ pit and am looking at about 8 or 9 hours of smoking time. No biggie since my job throughout the process is mainly to add another couple sticks of alder to the pit every hour or so. And yes, I am a whore for flattery.

As far as blog updates go while we're aground, I doubt they'll be daily. Maybe every three days or so. And I know they won't have photos unless I happen to be somwehere that I can get a high speed connection. Because waiting for a photo, much less multiple photos, to up load on a dial-up connection is pure torture.

Meanwhile, we're soaking up the nice warm weather while we can. It's weird, our retirement plan was to always be where it's warm and this is actually the first time we've been warm since we retired over a year ago.