Saturday, May 19, 2018

Captains log 18 05 18 stay warm!


I am going to try this sleeping on the boat thing again, it has been a relaxing night out, I went to a memorial for an old friend of mine after work, it went well. Afterwards we met at the Owl’s for a beer and bad humor. I think the air is clear again.

I was hoping for some thunder tonight, but I think the air near the lake is still too cold. I am wnting to do some fiberglass work tomorrow, and the whole sleep on the boat and wake up at 8 in the morning after a real nights sleep will be nice. I can go home, eat, and get ready to face the day and still be up out on the town earlier than if I went home to my regular bed. That and the drive is a lot shorter. From my hang out to the boat is less that a mile, from there to home is closer to ten.

I have my tooth brush and all of the necessary amenities on the boat, that and the rocking put me to sleep like a baby, that and I stay asleep. I jus have to warm it up in here for a while first. The space heater is working on it, by the time I finish this post and get it up on the net I should be pretty well set. I think the night is actually supposed to warm up as the night rolls through, thank you wind switch, so it should be a comfortable enough night.

I got started on making a Facebook page for the boat tonight, as the result of some requests to do so. I am not a huge fan of the Facecrack and it immediately annoyed me. Alas, it is the only way to find people these days. Something like a quarter of the planet is on Facebook now. What kind of a world do we live in?

I have been working on writing my story again. I know approximately where it is going to go. Speaking of which, I should back it up somewhere not on the hard disk so that I will not lose anything. I can solve this easily by emailing myself a copy….

Done…

I am at the 15,000 odd word stage, it is passing novella and becoming something real. I originally intended it to be a short story, but it got interesting and away from me.

Ohhh, according to the thermometer it is up to 50 degrees in here, how about I keep writing.

Wednesday was interesting, Tomkins lost his mast when he got blown into the lift bridge after a particularly violent wind switch. I saw another, presumably better maintained boat with a broken fore-stay. The two people in the marina that came in after the switch both hit the dock, luckily to minor effects in both cases.

51 degrees, I am making progress! If I can get it to sixty in here I will sleep like a dream!

It looks like the lake drove the storms to the north, so no thunder for me tonight. Alas, I wanted to hear some nice low rumbles, I guess I will have to wait for another night for that kind of fun.

So tomorrow I was thinking of re-fiberglassing the interior portions of the chain plates, reinforcing the portion in the cabin where years of water leakage did a number on the wood. I am also going to extend the chain plates further down and into the wood where it is a lot more solid. I think in general more is better when it comes down to what I have everything attached to. I was just going to extend it down with an aluminum plate extending down through another 4 bolts, but after some thought and research on the subject of dielectric corrosion I am either going to come up with some stainless or use normal steel, and find some stainless when I get a chance to come across some, which happens in my life.
52 degrees.

I am not sure if it is the heater or just me breathing down here that is doing the most work on warming things up. Oh wait, 53 degrees, must be the heater, hopefully some of this heat is making it to the Vee-berth.

I had three beers and three cups of rather gut-rotty coffee tonight, I think I need to bring them some coffee pot cleaner again. It really does a good job of saving my belly when the coffee pot is clean and the coffee doesn't taste burnt. Generally speaking that isn’t the coffee though, usually it is just that the pot and the brewer needs a good cleaning.

Ok, enough digression for now. I should be getting off to sleepy land, it is twenty to two in the morning, still hovering at 53 degrees, but that isn’t that much colder than what I would get sleeping in the basement at home, never mind, just switched to 54 degrees.

I will plug my phone into the charger, brush my teeth and then see where we are at. Even after I unplug the heater it will still kick out heat for a while, if we could get a wind switch it would really make the difference.

Well, the boat is up to 55 degrees and the fan is blowing away from where the thermometer is mounted, although I am sure that most of the warm air is rising, theoretically some of this blew into the Vee-berth.

I am going to post this mess to the interwebs and lay myself down to sleep. I have blankets, I will not freeze to death. It is supposed to be warmer tonight than it will be tomorrow night (talking about hgih 30’s for a low tomorrow, to hell with that. I cannot wait until summer arrives for real!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Good day to stay at the dock!

I got to the boat and got the motor started up, I had checked the weather and they were predicting a wind switch with 10 mph winds, gusting to 16 before dropping off to 8 mph.  While we were waiting for our third person to arrive we watched at the race fleet went out in the lake to run a race and shortly after they had cleared the bridge one of my dock neighbors called out, hey, look at the flag over there!

The flag was point straight back out of the NE, we had SW winds all day and with the off-shore breeze it had warmed up to a very pleasant 85 degrees.  That wind shortly got to us at the marina and the temperature immediately plummeted.  Not to mention I was getting 5 degrees of heel at the dock with all of the sails wrapped and stowed!  Oh, and the wind was at my aft quarter, not even getting hit broadside!

Here is a screen shot showing the sudden change in the weather.
That switch from 81 degrees, west wind at 9 to 48 degrees with NE wind gusting to 38 was a killer!

The poor little J24 '151' was caught in the ship canal when the wind switched, which was accompanied with a inbound current as well as the water sloshed across the surface into the harbor driven by the strong winds.

Here is a video someone caught of '151' getting dis-masted by the bridge.
I checked with those guys later back at the dock and everyone was ok, but they were not the only one who had trouble.

As the boats were streaming back into the harbor we saw another boat that had lost a fore-stay.  And the two boats that came into our marina both had issues, the one came in hot and even with three helpers on the dock we were not able to stop him from bumping the pier, luckily with the anchor mount and not the fiberglass.  Shortly later another J24 came in and we got him to the dock safely but five minutes later his stern line snapped and he hit the concrete as well, luckily there were people still around so only minor cosmetic damage.

It was a good night to stay at the dock and have dock beers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Captains log 18 05 13


I decided not to stay on the boat last night, it was just too cold and I wanted to get a bunch of work done at home before I got distracted. As it turned out a switch in the wind was a good thing and compared to the 42 degrees that it was last night when I finally finished up reading through a writing project I have been working on and deciding that it is actually good, today it is 78 degrees according to the outdoor thermometer, likely a little optimistic, but even in the cabin it is 73 degrees. It is windier today, but it is going in the direction that blows be straight back out of the dock, do getting in and out will be a piece of cake!

I also remembered to grab the seat cushion for this seat so I am no longer sitting on a life jacket when I am writing. I actually had a full car load on the way here, I grabbed my art supplies, I grabbed some clothes that I can wear, for instance if I was feeling saucy and wanted to change into short I could now!

I also finally found a vacuum, so I did a little cleaning on the floor, although I have a lot more that needs to be done before I can really consider it clean, it looks better. I think I am going to do that before anyone shows up, now that I think about it. I will be right back.

The floor cleaned up well, then people showed up and the boat left the dock! The GPS program works awesome! The GPS location was accurate to having me on the correct side of the correct dock in the marina.

I also discovered that my knot meter reads low, I am going to work on adjusting it next time I get a chance to go out and we have people along that can sail while I fiddle.

Oh well, here are some pics!




Captains Log 18 05 12


I need to make a better list of people to go sailing with, everyone is always working, has kids, has to be up early in the morning. Bahhh. Ok, I kid, really I should just toss the lines and go solo, it would be a good night for it. Other than the fact that it is 48 degrees outside and it is only going to get colder with the clear skies. I think they are saying thirty something for a low tonight. It wont drop below freezing by the water, but it will get damn close.

I finally got the pump to change my oil, and I got the CO monitor on the boat, which so far has achieved in annoying the shit out of me, because there is no really good place to put it, and it gives false alarms all the damn time, like when I accidentally kick it reaching for something, or when it just decides to be a piece of shit.

I did buy a clock, it is not the old fashioned style of clock where you have hands and actually have to read the thing, but a new-fangled digital, with some nice features like an indoor/outdoor thermometer, which is how I know that it is 47 degrees outside the boat, and 54 degrees inside the boat. I do have th heater plugged in but it has not had nearly enough time to start making a difference.

I am going to make a pot of coffee, and by the time that is done I should have it warmed up in here a little bit. I am very careful to not have more than one appliance turned on at a time, since I have the hotplate on I have the heater turned off, but it is still pumping out its remnant heat while the water gets to a boil. Not to mention the heat created by me moving around and grinding up the beans in my little hand mill. It is all the way to 55 degrees in here!

I did get a small fan to blow air around in here, specifically from behind the heater, through the coils, and into the vee-berth. It gets f’n cold up there, and heat rises, which takes it away from the vee-berth. Alas, it is the physics of heat that is defeating me, being now defeated by the mothers of invention.

Ok, according to the thermometer, which is conveniently immediately above the hot-plate, it is up to 56 degrees in here, but down to 45 outside. It is not like this boat has any insulation, and it id still early May, although almost up to mid-May. This is Minnesota after all, a month ago we got a foot of snow and I went cross-country skiing.

Oh, hot coffee, what a wonderful invention. I had not been drinking a lot of coffee lately because, well, I just hadn’t been in the mood. Considering that I work for a coffee roaster I think it was a bad sign. I have been resume spamming as well, we will see how that works out for me. If I can get the one job I am definitely going to be doing some fun and interesting moves with my life this summer. A lot of freelance work, and even more writing and painting, on top of keeping on top of the blog. Which reminds me, I should figure out the wifi password one of these days. It is relaxing being disconnected.

I am still waiting for this supposed atomic clock to figure out what the time is. It has been almost 40 minutes. It still thinks it is Sunday, January 1st.

I ran into some of the other sailor folk in the bar the other night, they were joking about how many women I am going to end up sleeping with this summer. I really don’t consider it a competition, I would be happy with one, presuming I can find the right one. Alas, it is part of the culture and I can tolerate it, but I am not going to turn into some lascivious man-whore just to make them happy.

According to the thermometer it is now up to a pleasant ~60 degrees in here, down to 44 outside. The heater is pumping out its steady radiance, and I think it is going to work out just fine with the little fan and the heater.

The other day we got a bunch of rain, which allowed me to go around the boat and mark out where I had leaks. I have a check list of things I need to go around and fix now, it is pretty extensive. Many of them I will be able to fix by myself, at least good enough for this year. Some of them are going to require doing some fiberglass work, and many of them will require an assistant, especially the ones involving taking a stanchion up and re-bedding it.

I still have not made the decision as to whether or not I am sleeping on the boat tonight. I am going to do some writing, I am going to finish my coffee, run downtown, and then see where the night takes me.

I did also go to the paint recycling place today, which was good, I got another 1/6th of a quart of spar varnish! This make like three quarts I have picked up for free so far this year. If I can keep this up I am never going to have to actually buy the stuff! I also found a little bit of alcohol for the stove, and a fiberglass kit, which was nice because I just have a small repair that I need to do at the beginning of the year, the big stuff, like when I decide I need to tear the decks up and re-core them, that can wait.

I am happy, the leak repairs that I have done are all working out swimmingly! There is no water at all coming in where I have taken the time and effort to tear out the old silicon caulk and replace it with butyl, like it should have been sealed with in the first place.

Oh well, I think I am going to work on some fiction writing. This is a large part of my I wanted to get on the boat, well that and painting. Oh, and freedom. But I have done enough blogging for the moment and it is time to do some of what I bought this little piece of freedom for in the first place. I also can’t wait until I have the leaks above the dinette fixed so I can put the cushions in and I don’t have to sit on a life jacket anymore.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Blue Brown dream.

Not exactly sure how the whole things started, I was either at a doctors office or an insane asylum, either one would work.  But I had a problem, I could not see the colors blue or brown, not all hues of blue and brown, but really specific wavelengths within the ranges of blues and browns.

The interesting thing about this is that if something was one of those colors it did not show up as grey, it was simply not there.  Like you could use blue ink on a piece of paper and I would be completely unable to see it.  I believe the sky would still be white, but then again I never got a chance to experiment in the dream to see if the sky would be stars, even in the daylight.

I think that the easiest way to describe it would be like in photoshop when you add transparency to a layer, it was like that.  If because of some freak of nature the daytime sky was no longer blue and I could see the stars, even in the daylight that would be the coolest thing.

Just sayin...

Changing your boats name

First disclaimer:  I am not changing the name of Big Bird, the name fits too well...

Second Disclaimer: I am not going to do much research here, this is just common sense.

It has always been considered to be bad luck to change a boats name, and I am guessing that if you looked back in the history of boats, there was a propensity to disaster after the boats changed names, but lets look a little closer at this.

Why did they change the name?  Usually if an owner has a boat they are not going to change the name of the boat while they own it, the boats name is going to signify a new owner or operator of the boat.

This brings up the question:

Why did the previous owner sell it?  Was the boat already on its last legs and it was easier to find a sucker to buy it than to scrap it, or does the new owner/operator have any idea what they are doing.

If it is a new boat with a new operator, does the crew have any idea what they are doing, do they know all of the quirks of this new boat, can they read the weather just by listening to the hull and the rigging?  I am going to guess not.

Is the new operator/owner familiar with the area that they are sailing the boat into?  Do they know all of the hazards, what the weather is likely to do, where the hidden rocks, good places to find shelter, quirks of harbor entrances, etc. are?

Does the new owner really have to earn a buck off this boat to recover their investment and is as a result willing to take unreasonable chances with the boat in order to get their return on investment.

And this is how people die.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Curious things in the long term weather forecast, a Hurricane!

OK, as a huge caveat, long term forecast models are notoriously unreliable.  A slightly smaller caveat, the Atlantic Hurricane season has not started yet.

But looking at the models I saw this thing set to run across Florida on May 25th.
Yep, that is a category one hurricane, predicted for two weeks from now, originating in the Caribbean, and rolling across Cuba, and then across the straights, over Florida, and emerging near the Florida/Georgia border in the Atlantic and then petering out over Georgia.

Shit son, I will have to keep an eye out for this one!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Captain's log, adventures of Big Bird 2018 05 06


I survived another night on the boat, the additional blanket made a difference, but looking at the weather forecast for next weekend it will be a little while before I sleep on he boat again. I also need to get a fan so I can move the air around a little bit.

But I did not freeze to death, I woke up this morning, even rolling over a few times to get another forty winks I go up at 8:15 in the morning (I actually looked at where the sun was coming in the port hole above the V-berth and guessed the time within five minutes). I had my breakfast coffee and left over pizza with an orange, and sat out in the bright sunlight of morning.


I survived another night on the boat, the additional blanket made a difference, but looking at the weather forecast for next weekend it will be a little while before I sleep on he boat again. I also need to get a fan so I can move the air around a little bit.

But I did not freeze to death, I woke up this morning, even rolling over a few times to get another forty winks I go up at 8:15 in the morning (I actually looked at where the sun was coming in the port hole above the V-berth and guessed the time within five minutes). I had my breakfast coffee and left over pizza with an orange, and sat out in the bright sunlight of morning.

I will call it a win. I think today, presuming that nothing horrible happens I am going to get out on the water and actually sail the boat. I believe that is what it exists for. The weather is nice, a touch cold, but pleasant. The winds are light, and the sun is bright. There are only a few wispy cirrus clouds, it should be a glorious day for a light sail.


Right now I am pondering if I should go home and grab one of the cushions for the dinette so I can use something better than a life jacket for a cushion, I also want to see if I can find the hose to fill the water tank up and finally get the pink stuff out of the water system. I think the extra weight in the bow would make the boat not as likely to bob when I am going over a head sea as well. Of course with a 9000 pound boat I am not sure how much of a difference 20 gallons of water could make.

I figured out why I had a charge imbalance between the two batteries, turned out there was a blown fuse on the one charger lead. Fixed that, the charge imbalance should fix itself in a few days, I will just start the motor on the well charged battery and then let the alternator charge up the other one when I am underway. It should be back in balance with in a few days.

In the meantime I am going to head home for a bit, get some more wood splitting done. It feels really good when that chore is finished for the season. Also, when that chore is finished I am largely free! Just lawn mowing and miscellaneous repair jobs after that!


I will call it a win. I think today, presuming that nothing horrible happens I am going to get out on the water and actually sail the boat. I believe that is what it exists for. The weather is nice, a touch cold, but pleasant. The winds are light, and the sun is bright. There are only a few wispy cirrus clouds, it should be a glorious day for a light sail.

Right now I am pondering if I should go home and grab one of the cushions for the dinette so I can use something better than a life jacket for a cushion, I also want to see if I can find the hose to fill the water tank up and finally get the pink stuff out of the water system. I think the extra weight in the bow would make the boat not as likely to bob when I am going over a head sea as well. Of course with a 9000 pound boat I am not sure how much of a difference 20 gallons of water could make.

I figured out why I had a charge imbalance between the two batteries, turned out there was a blown fuse on the one charger lead. Fixed that, the charge imbalance should fix itself in a few days, I will just start the motor on the well charged battery and then let the alternator charge up the other one when I am underway. It should be back in balance with in a few days.

In the meantime I am going to head home for a bit, get some more wood splitting done. It feels really good when that chore is finished for the season. Also, when that chore is finished I am largely free! Just lawn mowing and miscellaneous repair jobs after that!


After a bit of a break the boat finally left the dock!  My friend Anthony came down and we went for a quick three hour tour of the harbor.  The wind was damn cold, something about 45 degree air and a touch of wind.  It is still relatively early in the spring for these kinds of adventures, but it will warm up soon.  The entire time we were out sailing, which other than for the temperature it was a perfect day for (8 knot wind, almost perfectly perpendicular to the run of the harbor) we did not see another sailboat on the harbor.  To be fair, to my knowledge I am only the second person to actually leave the dock and raise sail so far this year.

As you can see it was a very hard sail!  On the way back we did get to out comfortable 15 degrees of heel at almost five knots on a nice close hauled run back to the marina.  We got back and started getting the sails all put away just in time for a salty to roll in and cut very tight across the harbor, which was slightly nerve-racking because I could not move much closer to shore as I was going to run out of channel, and with the main still getting folded on the boom I could not turn.  Thankfully they gave enough room that no one had to do an evasive.

Captain's log, adventures of Big Bird 2018 05 05


I finally spent the night on the boat, I would consider it to be a liberating experience. At the beginning of the night the wind had kicked up and it was rather noisy because despite b]my best efforts there were still things slapping around up in the rigging, not to mention the rub of the boat against the fenders, and the howl of the wind. The wind was officially only about twenty knots, but it was still enough to make a racket. I fell asleep like a log and I stayed that way all night, at least until closer to dawn when I reallied how cold it had gotten after the wind had switched off the lake. I believe the official outside temperature was 43 degrees and although the main cabin of the boat was sufficiently warm, the v-berth was a little ice cube. I think I can fix this with a little fan, something that would not be that difficult to obtain, and air circulation has never been noticed as a bad thing. I was pondering this winter about installing some dorades, I believe that is spelled correctly, but that would have only brought in more cold air, which was the last thing I needed, I already had plenty of that.

I bought one of those oil filled heaters, so it does not have a fan on it to blow hot air around, which means that for the most part in heats its immediate vicinity, and anything directly above it. I guess that is the price I have to pay for not burning the marina to the ground. When I ran home today, on top of splitting a trailer full of firewood, and moving another persons boat out of storage in the garage, I grabbed another blanket. Now I just need to work on taking more application for the still open boat-bum cuddler position. I wonder how you would word that one on craigslist, wanted, little spoon.


In the morning I woke up an made a pot of coffee on the fancy new hot plate, and then I made a bagel in the toaster. I then proceeded to sit out on the back deck by the steering wheel and eat my food, drink my coffee, and watch the marina owner (Joel) run around in a little run about trying to get the storm damage to the plumbing under the docks fixed. It looked like he was making progress, but I still do not have any water. I did get my boat in the water really early though, I was the third sailboat in the water (I think in the entire area) and there are still only about a half a dozen or so boats in the entire marina! I think on my stretch of ~35 docks there are three boats, one of which is a charter fisherman and fishing is already open on the big lake.

Todays adventure was an attempt to change the oil in which I discovered that the plumbing line that goes to the sink leaks like a sieve. I fixed the leak, but after getting was dripped all over the engine I am going to let it dry out before I attempt the oil change again. I am also waiting for my brother to remember to bring home the little portable oil change bump that he brought to the tugboat and left there. It will make the oil change really quick work.

I did get the hose fixed, and I also discovered the problem with the wood piece at the top of the steps before killing myself when it let go at an inopportune moment.

The interior of the boat still looks like a train wreck as all of the cushions with the exception of the v-berth are still in storage, there is a big pile of mainsail to my left, as that one did not come with a sail bag, and I have not fixed the leaky stanchion above the q-berth so I cannot use that space as life jacket storage yet.


Thankfully the leaks I have left to track down and fix are all topside, which makes life easier. I do have power though! Which means I can sit here and work on my laptop to my hearts content! And since I do not have Internet I can actually get something accomplished!

It is an odd thing to think of the lack of in this day and age, but I do not have a clock on board. Not that I really need a clock with the prevalence of cell phones and what not, but to have a nice mechanical clock on board would be kind of nice. I did adjust the barometer today so that it actually ready correctly and not ¾ of an inch low. The thing was constantly reading change, it was enough to give a person a little bit of a complex.

I think I am going to take a couple of pictures of the interior of the boat in its current state, and make a pot of coffee. The fun thing about the appliances is I have to remember what are big appliances and what are small appliances, I can run several small appliances at any given time, things like the trickle charger on the batteries, the laptop, the interior lighting. But things like the toaster, hotplate, heater I only run one at a time. None of them draw over 1000 watts, and I should technically have about 3000 at my disposal, but why take chances when there is no reason to do so.


Although I am not ready to take the plunge into staying on the boat all of the time, the date when that starts is coming up pretty soon. I have to wait for the weather to warm up a little bit more first. It is still too cold at night to stay on here, although the heater helps, it can only do just so much.

I think tomorrow (Sunday) I may go out for a little bit of a cruise, and Wednesday as well. Savannah is getting back in town this week and I can bet that she is getting a little antsy to go out and go for a sail. I want to make sure that some of the electronics are working the way that they are intended to, like the autopilot. I never got an opportunity to fire the thing up last year, but if we go for a cruise out on the lake I will have a long enough run, and enough open water on all sides of me to fire the thing up and see if it sails me true. I also need to bring the little USB GPS dongle out and see if it is functioning with the open-source charting software that I downloaded to see where I am going when it comes time to do some more extensive cruising. Going around Park Point is fine, but sometimes you need to lose sight of land to know what it really feels like to be out on a boat. It is difficult to get far enough out on Lake Superior to actually lose sight of land, but it can happen, especially at night once you get away from the sky glow above Duluth.


I have a lot of work yet to do on Big Bird, but I have a whole summer to accomplish things! There is no reason to rush the non-critical stuff. Oil Change is a must, fixing leaky stanchions is a must, varnishing the grab rails is a must. I also have one chain plate that is towards the top of the to do list, although considering I have to dismantle half the interior on the Starboard side to get to it, it is somewhere between the leaky stanchions and varnishing. Where the chain plate attaches into the fiberglass of the hull it is solid, but the wood that it attaches to is a bit questionable, considering that it was marine plywood I am going to venture a guess that the chain plate has been leaking for a few years, or maybe decades and it still has not failed. But it is definitely going to have to be fixed for real, re-fiberglassed where the wood is gone, and an extension to the chain plate at the bottom so I know it is biting into something substantial before I go on any hard cruises in any conditions where I can’t just drop the sails, start the motor and cruise back to port.

Now that I have had the heater on for a while I have noticed that it is really nice and warm in the top two feet of the cabin, but all of the cold air is still pooling near the floor, meh.









Thursday, May 3, 2018

Rise in despair? Blame social media

Well, I blame the over importance and ever presence of social media, plus the sharp rise in income inequality.  We turn on the TV and see the lives of the Kardassians or Paris Hilton, look around our own life and ponder if we can afford cheese to put on out saltine crackers.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/23/521083335/the-forces-driving-middle-aged-white-peoples-deaths-of-despair