What's in her name?

What's in her name (Salish Aire)?

from her new home the Salish Sea

Aire as in a melody of song.

Salish + Aire = The melody of the Salish Sea.

Salish Sea:
In the late 1700's Captain George Vancouver wandered around the waters of what are now known as British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA. He did the usual 1700's explorer thing and put names he chose on everything he saw. The names stuck and are recognized and used to this day.

New lines were added to Captain Vancouver's charts in 1872 (after a near war with Great Britain over a pig) which made waters on one side of the line Canadian and those on the other side of the line American.

It wasn't until 1988 (officiated in 2009) that someone finally realized that fish and various critters, (to say nothing of the water itself) were never involved in the boundary treaties and really ignored them completely. (This is best illustrated by the problems that Homeland Security has with Canadian Canada Geese and American Canadian Geese - it seems they refuse to carry passports and have been known to poop on the head of any border patrol person who tries to challenge their right to cross the border when and where they choose!) In reality the waters from Olympia to the well up the East side of Vancouver Island are pretty much one ecosystem.

The Coast Salish are the indigenous peoples who live in southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state along the Salish Sea and share a common linguistic and cultural origin. The Salish Sea is named in honor of the earliest recorded peoples who plied her waters and learned to live in harmony with her.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Loss of another parent

Clarice and I have (had) 3 surviving parents; my mother at 90 years old, Clarice's dad at 89 years old both with failing hearts, and Clarice's mother at 83 years old who still tended her 1/4 acre garden (down from about 2 acres when we met) and polka danced through last summer. We have planned our travels with full recognition that we might well need to fly home at some point to tend to a dying parent, most likely my mother or Clarice's dad.

Clarice's parents: Salome and Kelly Chambers
Last summer Salome (pronounced "Sah-loh-me"), Clarice's mother, made comments, as she has for a number of years that it would be her last garden and she probably wouldn't do as much, if any, home canning this year. (For years her 7 children and 14 grandchildren (the 11 great grandchildren are still a bit young) have enjoyed "shopping" when they visit in Salome's fruit room.) Everyone rolled their eyes in unison but this time her prediction  very very sadly came true.

About 2 months ago Salome had some blood tests run which ended up leading to a diagnosis that kept her in the hospital more than she was home. Last Saturday Clarice called her mother and picked up that her speech was slurred so she drove out to their rural home.  When she arrived her mother had all of the classic facial characteristics of a stroke. Tests just indicated that she was terribly ill and the underlying cause was not clear. She was sick enough that she was sent to intensive care.   On Monday (her 63rd wedding anniversary) a specialist was brought in who made a presumptive diagnosis of a fungal infection which generally is rapidly fatal.

Salome was offered the opportunity to be sent to Seattle to a University of Washington associated medical center but declined instead choosing to go home.  We were able to get her on Hospice very quickly and she spent her final four days surrounded by family and friends while Clarice and I put our Hospice Nurse experience to good use.

At this point we feel "all cried out" but I'm sure that the tears will flow again at the funeral two days hence.  My Mother-In-Law could be a challenging woman as she was as strong willed as her daughter but she loved her children and their families with all her heart and we love her with ours.

For all practical purposes Clarice has begun her retirement as she was granted an FMLA leave to help care for her father which extends to her planned retirement date in July.  My manager has been very supportive recognizing that to work as an acute care Hospice nurse one needs to have their own grief under control.

Despite the family crisis we continue to prepare Salish Aire and ourselves for our grand adventure (if nothing else it provides a mind break from the grief).  We've begun final testing of systems including the watermaker (which blew the top off a pre-filter under our bed (the good news was it was fresh water and everything under the bed is wrapped to prevent moisture damage) and the bilge pump system which failed to alarm for high water and wouldn't self prime.

The watermaker parts are expected to arrive tomorrow and hopefully the installation will go smoothly (which would be a first!).  What happened was that we have a practice of flushing the system with fresh water every two weeks to keep the reverse osmosis membranes moist.  We had turned the boat around in her slip so we could do so cleaning work on the side that is usually away from the dock.  Since we use shore water while we are tied up to pressurize our drinking water system and since our normal hose dedicated for this use wouldn't reach with the boat turned around, Clarice hooked up our longer hose instead.  She forgot that the longer hose didn't have a pressure reducer at the dock faucet and so the boat water system was at about 60 psi rather than 40 - 50 psi and the fairly old pre-filter housing couldn't take the extra load.  All we can say is that we are glad it happened before we left rather than underway where we wouldn't have access to new parts.

The bilge pump system issues came to light during a roughly semi-annual wet test where we fill the bilge on purpose to make sure everything is working.  The sequence should be 1) primary bilge pump activates with about 1 inch of water; 2) high water alarm in the pilot house squeals with about 2 inches of water; 3) a very high volume pump activates at about 9 inches of water (the deep part the of bilge is about 20 inches deep so there is still a lot of room before the engine room starts to flood). The test started well with the primary pump activating and pumping water but there was no alarm. To make a long story short the very nice pump / alarm switch that was installed in 2002 had specific instructions about sealing the wires which weren't followed and moisture gradually backed down the inside of the wires and damage the circuit board.   I spoke to the designer of the switch who told me exactly what to look for and what the problem was. I installed a new switch and made a mental note that this was one more system that I should consider swapping out the hoses for new ones. To confirm that the system was now working as designed I did another wet test.  The switch worked great but the primary pump would not self prime so it was back to the drawing board.  Yesterday I replaced the original soft rubber hose with wire would stiff rubber hose and everything worked perfectly with the final test.  (My best guess is that a section of the original hose that runs under the floor and over the fuel tank is either partially kinked or has softened with age and would collapse when the pump pulled a vacuum - since I couldn't pull it out to look at it, I couldn't make a visual confirmation of the hypothesis).

Next on my list is changing the oil in all engines and transmissions.  Next on Clarice's list is a finishing waxing the boat.  On both our lists is looking at the zincs on the bottom of the boat and replacing any that are too far gone. Clarice is starting final food provisioning and I am nearing the end of spare parts and fluids provisioning.  Jarvis has confirmed that a 50# bag of dog food came aboard and plenty of dog treats.

Our daughter did come out for her grandmothers final days and returned home to Ontario Canada on Monday.  She and her kids will be out for their planned summer visit the final three weeks of July and then we plan to be on our way.

We do have to say that we are really feeling the upcoming change to our lives.  Friends have left for their summer Inside Passage trip and unless we can rendezvous with them we may never catch up with them again. We have already made arrangements to sell our final car to our son after 45 years of continuous car ownership. Planning for our bon voyage open boat party has begun.  Clarice has passed on her duties at our yacht club and our church is aware we will no longer attend after the end of July.  On the other hand I purchased the latest edition of the Waggoner Cruising Guide to the Inside Passage and am absorbing little travel planning details.

The Grand Adventure is getting very very close!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Oh my! No more time to procrastinate before seeing SE Washington State.

I was born and raised in Washington State and have traveled a good portion of the State’s back roads as I am truly in love with the many landscapes here. The one section I have always thought I needed to go see and never got around to was the southern section from Yakima east.
Recently while in a small town grocery store / gas station / hardware store a book on the counter caught my eye titled “Bretz’s Flood”  


 I ended up ordering and then reading the story of how a maverick geologist in the early 1900’s broke with common thinking and determined that the landforms in the southern mid-section of my state were not formed by the slow processes of “normal erosion” but rather by the cataclysm of perhaps the largest flood (now believed to be floods) the world has ever known. Suddenly a lot of pieces of landforms I had seen in my travels in Eastern Washington that “just didn’t feel right” according to my one semester of college geology started to fall into place and I was more motivated to head over and see the area with new eyes. 

Typical Eastern Washington Scablands terrain
Typical Eastern Washington Scablands terrain

Then it hit me that I only expect to live in Washington full-time for another couple of months. The choice was no longer how long to procrastinate but rather to go now or possibly never get to this fascinating part of the State. 

The other sights I had procrastinated about seeing for years were the Hanford nuclear reservation where the nuclear materials needed for the bombs used in WWII were put together, the Hanford reach which is the only free-running, non-tidal section of the Columbia River On the US side of the border, and the Snake River.

With a three day stretch of free days coming up I decided that Jarvis and I would head out on a road trip from Tuesday to Thursday.  I had been asked to put in a 15 hour shift at the hospital on Monday so I figured that getting camping gear would have to wait until after I left Clarice off at the bus station at 06:15 on Tuesday morning. 

Tuesday morning dawned and Jarvis and I left Clarice off to catch her bus to work and then headed over to Clarice’s parents “farm” where most of our camping gear is stored. Everything went smoothly as I gathered the gear from the loft over the garage and then headed back to the boat.  On the boat I gathered clothing, sleeping bag, camera, binoculars, and everything else I could quickly think of in my mildly sleep deprived state before heading to a doctor’s appointment to get prescriptions renewed before the Great Boating Adventure begins.  From the doctor’s appointment Jarvis and I headed toward the I-90 pass over the Cascade Mountain Range to our entry into Eastern Washington. We were well on our way to Snoqualmie Pass when I realized that our tent and ground pads are stored on the boat rather than with the rest of the camping gear – we were off on a camping trip with no tent.
Our first stop was a short way over Snoqualmie Pass where I took a nostalgic side trip to look for Meany Ski Lodge owned by the Seattle Mountaineers


. I had belonged to the Mountaineers while I was in high school and visited Meany several times to ski and have wonderful memories of what has to be one of the last VERY rustic ski lodges and ski hills located so far off the beaten track that winter visitors have to be towed on their skis behind a sno-cat the last distance through the forest to the lodge.  I also remember getting part of my driving education in my friend’s mother’s (gutless) Ford Mustang as we travelled the logging roads to the weather station on the top of Stampede Pass and then visited Meany for a summer view. On this trip we had a nice walk in the forest (Jarvis, to his delight, sans leash) but the snow level was still too low to reach the weather station or Meany.    

Jarvis enjoying some off leash time near Hanford Reach

Our next stop was to get some lunch and fuel in Cle Elum where we were informed that the most likely place to get a cheap used tent was in the Goodwill store in Ellensburg.  So after a quick tour and picnic at the old railroad yard museum in town we headed on eastward to Ellensburg.
In Ellensburg we ended up buying a cheap new tent and an air mattress before heading through the Yakima Canyon route to Yakima Sportsman State Park. We found that apparently no one goes camping the week before Memorial Day and had no trouble finding a really nice camp site and we put up the cheap new tent and tried to settle in for the night (that is I tried to settle in – Jarvis can sleep through pretty much anything).  The central basin of Eastern Washington does not have a lot of trees or land forms and so the wind is pretty much a constant. That night it was a very energetic constant and the 4 ft tall tent was compressed to about 2 ft tall during the worst gusts. In any case the wind subsided by 11 PM and we made it through the night with no disasters.

The very cheap tent before the wind got bad.

The next morning our real quest to see territory that was new to me began.  We headed due east and before long I started to recognize the flood carved “scablands” described by Dr. Bretz. We reached the Hanford Reach area and I was pleased to find that from the highway and some decent gravel back roads I was able to get a good look at the Hanford Reach section of the Columbia River and with our fancy binoculars see the historic nuclear reactors on the opposite shore.  Among the sights was a quick look at a flock of rare white pelicans.  I had read about them but wasn’t too impressed until I realized that what I thought were people floating in inner-tube were really huge birds.

Historic Hanford nuclear reactors across the Columbia River

Hanford Reach section of the Columbia River

From Hanford we continued east to view Palouse Falls. The falls are really off the beaten track but were well worth the trek as they are an amazing sight being in full flow due to the first hot weather of the season melting snow combined with recent rains. On the way to Palouse Falls I got to see more of the scablands as well as getting my first look at the rolling hills of The Palouse region of the State.

The Palouse Region

Scablands terrain

Palouse Falls

Upstream of Palouse Falls

Downstream of Palouse Falls

Since I had never seen the Snake River we made a short side trip down the hill to the river’s edge.  While the famous Hell’s Canyon was further east the river was worth seeing and I got the added bonus of seeing one of the longest and highest railroad bridges where the tracks cross the river.

Rail bridge over the Snake River  at Starbuck

From The Palouse we headed pretty much due north to our planned stop for the night at Dry Falls – Sun Lakes State Park. Dry Falls is understood to be the remnant of one of the largest water falls to ever grace Planet Earth.

Dry Falls from visitor center

Dry Falls State Park

Dry Falls from the lake at the base of the falls

Looking down the coulee from Dry Falls

We found a camp site that was well protected from the wind and took a walk then drive around the area and park.  We returned to make dinner only to discover that our campsite had previously been vacated by another camping family due to its infestation with mosquitoes. While I was able to keep them at bay with long clothes and repellant, poor Jarvis was defenseless except for his short coat of fur.  I was reticent to put repellant on him for fear it would injure his skin or that he would lick it off and get sick from it.  I even tried putting one of my t-shirts on him which worked for about 15 minutes before it fell off.  In the end we went into the tent early and even though it was cheap, it did prove to be mosquito proof. 

For our final day we headed due west on Highway 2 into territory and soon reached the Columbia River and territory that was very familiar to me. We arrived home about noon to a lovely sunny Western Washington day and a waiting Clarice.  


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How a burned resistor can end up being a major project:

The other day we ended up with another one of those "little" boat projects that sounds so minor but quickly gains a life of its own.

We had been out on the water and had time to really work with our new modem for the high frequency (HF) (AKA "Ham" or "Single Side Band -SSB") radio.  After we were done we noticed a hot electrical smell in the lower areas of the boat.  Needless to say anything that smells like burning electrical insulation in a diesel filled floating flammable fiberglass box deserves immediate attention.

Clarice and I are generally VERY compatible (the classic "joined at the hip" type of couple). The big exception is when it comes to sleeping temperature preferences.  I like it hot and Clarice likes it cold.  Our marriage has only lasted 40 + years thanks to dual control electric blankets. On Salish Aire we have found that a dual control heated mattress pad works wonders at keeping the peace.

Marriage saver (with outstanding warranty service)

Back to the burning electrical device smell: It turned out the smell was pretty hard to track and clearly wasn't increasing so we gave up and finished out the day.  It was when we went to bed that we discovered the source of the smell - my electric mattress pad control was the culprit. After doing an autopsy and discovering a burned out resistor on the circuit board we switched out my control for Clarice's never used one and slept the night away.

Little resistor burning made a huge odor!

After considerable pondering about the failure of the bed control I wondered if it had been overwhelmed by radio frequency energy from the  HF radio (this may sound far fetched but these radios make lights flash and all sorts of things happen with electronics when they transmit). I emailed a published radio guru who replied that he just could not believe that was the source of the problem.

A week or so later I was doing some testing of our batteries and inverters (which turn 12 volt direct current (DC) power into 120 volt alternating current (AC) power so we can run common household appliances while we are underway or at anchor).  Once again we smelled the acrid smell of burning electrical gear only this time we knew exactly where to look - yep the same resistor in the replacement control had burned out.  Since the radio hadn't been on I was quickly able to put the pieces together and realized that our older inverter was very likely the cause of the failures.

A bit of inverterology is in order here.  Turning AC power into DC power is really very easy and has been done for a lot of years.  Turning DC power into AC power on the over hand is not so easy.  In the past it was done by having AC motors turn DC generators which was a very cumbersome process. It was only with the advent of high speed solid state electronics that DC to AC inverters became practical. For those not familiar with AC power - the "A" (alternating)  part involves the changing of the direction of the current 60 times a second (in the USA - other places only do it 50 times a second). This changing direction is a very natural outcome of electricity produced in a revolving generator which changes the voltage in pattern that when graphed creates a very nice undulating sine wave.

The earliest inverters just gave up on trying to create a lovely sine wave and instead created a chunky square wave pattern.  Many AC electrical tools were happy with this but many electronic devices were not.

The next generation of inverters couldn't get to a true sine wave but did manage a compromise known as a modified sine wave.

It wasn't until recently that true sine wave inverters hit the market and solved the problem with unhappy AC electronic devices.

Salish Aire came to us with 2 inverters on board - the older one producing modified sine wave AC and the newer one pure sine wave AC.  Both were very high quality devices made a few miles from our marina in Everett, Washington. The older inverter happened to be nearest to the larger of our two battery banks and so if I wanted to pull from that bank alone then I needed to pull AC from the boat from the older inverter only.

One last note of background information for those without a background in AC electricity. It is VERY difficult to put more than one electricity creating device on a single circuit at one time as the sine waves MUST align perfectly (be "in phase"). Back when my dad was working as an industrial electrician he recounts the story of bringing a second generator on line at the old ASARCO copper smelter in Tacoma (now just a superfund memory) and how, despite their best efforts to get the two sine waves aligned the generators made a huge thunk to get their magnetism aligned since the waves were not quite perfectly together (I've heard other stories of generators jumping off of their mountings due to this phenomenon). This becomes relevant later in our story.

It was during times that we were using the older inverter that the bed controls burned out so now we have moved to the true beginning of the story.  My current assessment is that the blanket controls (which are electronic) don't like modified sine waves and so they quit working (our marriage likely will survive this insult as the manufacturer has told us they will honor their very strong warranty and we are expecting a new heated mattress pad any day now).

Clarice asked why we didn't just replace the older inverter with a newer one and I explained that I believed that the costs would be quite prohibitive and besides we had a working system - why fix what ain't broken! Looking into the costs a bit more I realized that the previous owner had installed very good equipment and that the system was expandable.  I also learned that the newer inverter was designed so that it could be stacked with a second like inverter on the same power line and that they would automatically match sine waves.  Before long we had talked ourselves into getting a new inverter that matched the newer of our original ones.

Here is where boat projects quickly get out of hand.  The original older inverter was quite large and had been mounted right next to the engine room door so that I was constantly hitting it with my shoulder.  It also stuck out about a foot into the space I need to access when I work on equipment behind the hot water tank.  This meant that I had to enter the space with my arms over my head like a swan dive and then exit the same way in order for my shoulders to fit. We realized that in swapping out the inverter I could finally mount it next to the hot water tank and make equipment access much better.  BUT in order to put it where I wanted to I would need to move the water pump for the pilot house air conditioner / heat pump.  One project that was still in process was changing out the hoses on the 3 air conditioner / heat pump units as I had never done this last one (something about hoses that ran about 25 feet through small access spaces and ceilings seemed to make procrastination seem like a good idea).  So, since the water pump needed to move anyway we added a 50 ft roll of expensive marine water hose to the pile and moved forward.

The remodeling project also involved moving several other electrical devices to make room for the new inverter.  Finally the space looked ready and a friend helped me drop the 60 lb hunk into place - after I quickly unbolted some battery wires and other stuff to get them out of the access path.

Once the inverter was in its new location we worked together to run the new control wire under some drawers and through a wall and around a corner until it finally arrived at the hub where the system controls came together. I re-ran some short lengths of 120 V wire since the original wires didn't have the length to get to the new location (luckily the battery cables were long enough).

Finally the whole system was hooked up per the instructions and my drawings and the programming was done and only one inverter worked as the other one gave me an error message.

The next morning I worked to run new hose for the pump moving project (which turned out to be serendipitous as I found a couple of places the hose had started to leak).  The hose ran through the ceiling, up through a "mouse hole" and behind the dash board, and under a floor panel to the air conditioner (which is back in a very small cupboard) and back down the way it had come but then in the engine room it took a turn over the hot water heater and out to a fitting on the outer hull - which required that I lay on my back on top of the water heater and force my arms through a maze of hoses to get the old one off and the new one on while trying to keep the $^&%(^&% fitting in sight using the *&^ headlamp that kept slipping off my sweaty forehead and making sure that the &*^(*&Y clamp wouldn't come loose and sink the boat.

Air conditioner / heat pump located in a small cupboard (needless to say, the hoses connect to the BACK of the unit).

I had to lie on my back on the water heater (foreground)  and reach past the hoses in the photo to remove then replace the hose where water exits the boat. NO FUN!!!

An example of one of the many "mouse holes" on the boat where wires, hoses, etc move from one compartment to another.

Later in the morning I had my first call of several with Outback tech support - who were really very helpful but we just couldn't seem to find the gremlin in the system.  I could make the old inverter the master and the new inverter the slave but for various reasons having to do with battery locations and the layout of the boat I wanted the new inverter to be the master and the old one the slave. I was beginning to think that it had a social issue and simply would not accept its place in the world.  After several calls and a lot of over the phone troubleshooting the recommendation was made that I bring the old inverter into the factory (again, luckily its very close) for a firmware reburn.

Yesterday I got around to climbing into the lazarette and lying on my side to get the 60 lb beast unwired and removed from its home since 2009. I took it to the factory where they poked and prodded it for a day and then reported that it was flawless - they had failed to find the gremlin. In talking with the tech who met me at the door he threw out the idea that maybe the Cat 5 computer cable that connects the inverter to the hub was flawed. This seemed very remote to me as the inverter was happy to communicate with its programming "Mate" as long as I didn't tell it to be a "slave".

Old inverter in the lazarette.  I have to lie on my side to access this one.

Once back on the boat I climbed into the lazarette and manhandled 60 lbs up onto the bulkhead wall and rewired everything and it failed again.    In the end the cable was the issue (all I can guess is that one of the eight wires had a bad connection but it was not needed when only one inverter was on line so it was never revealed until now as a problem).  Needless to say the new one had to be run from the lazarette through a tiny hole into the engine room and then up through a mouse hole into another little space then through another mouse hole and over a ceiling panel and through another mouse hole before it reached the hub but once it was there IT WORKED!!

Final installation. The new inverter sits in the location where the A/C water pump used to sit. The small fuse panel now hangs where the original Trace inverter used to hang (see the yellow "ghost" outline). All in all a much cleaner installation allowing much easier access for large shouldered owners.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A dive trip to the Caribbean island of Bonaire

We returned home yesterday to Salish Aire after flying to the island of Bonaire north of Venezuela (it's the "B" of the ABC islands - Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). We believe this is our fourth trip there as it is one of our very favorite dive destinations.  The weather was wonderful with the air temperature in the low 80s (F) and the water a consistent 78 degrees (F). 

We understand that while we were gone it rained "buckets" here in the PNW and our daughter (whom we had invited to come down!) got to "enjoy" 20 cm of snow in Ontario. 

We will let the photos tell the story:

We stayed, as always, at the Carib Inn where Bruce and Co. made sure we had a great time ( https://www.caribinn.com/ )

The view looking North from the Carib Inn dock.
Bonaire still has a major salt industry.

Slave huts remind us that collecting salt was not always done by machine.
I'm a big fan of flamingos that hang out in the national park at the north end of the island.

Diving the windward side of the island is supposed to be spectacular but only done when the trade winds are quiet. Maybe next time.

Finally - Norman loves gadgets and Norman loves fresh orange juice.  We ran into this machine in the local supermarket and Norman had to get a video to share:


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Getting the final preparation projects done

We've had a list of final-year-projects (stuff we want to do before we retire and leave the dock) only now it is a final-few-months project list.

We've been checking into health insurance. Today Norman was issued an Alaska RN license in case we need / want some extra income or (more likely) he gets cabin (boat) fever and needs to be active by periodically doing the work he has done for many years. We won't need to buy any more car tabs as our son plans to buy our only vehicle before the tabs expire but we will need to pay for our state and federal yearly fees on the boat.  Both employers have been given verbal notice that we plan to leave (since Clarice works in a department of 5 people - they will need to plan for the loss of 20% of their trained labor force and 100% of their RN staff).  Norman's loss will be felt (he keeps telling people he would rather be missed than his departure cheered) but not as acutely.  We still need to arrange for mail handling and making sure our elderly parents can reach us if they need to.  And so the list goes on.

Yesterday we took our life raft in to get serviced.  It is often recommended that folks go along and see what is in the raft when it is opened up before it gets used in an emergency.  Rollie at Westpac Marine in Tacoma made sure we knew how to launch the raft and what to expect once it was in the water, how to right it if it inflated upside down, etc..

This is a "6 person" raft - We hope we don't even have to use it for 2 persons.

We thought Nancy had left graffiti - turns out the company builds the rafts to order and writes the new owners name so they can track the orders while they are built.   

Clarice had also wanted to have our water-maker checked by a professional and I wanted to learn if there was anything more I needed to be doing to/for it.  The boat next to us was getting a new water-maker and the installer offered to come and look at ours.  He gave it a clean bill of health and explained some of things we should watch for and do to maintain it. Since getting to the water-maker meant pulling all of the spare parts out from under the Owner's Berth in the bow of the boat it motivated me to continue with my project of changing out older hoses and fittings.  I had dreaded this section of the boat as a lot of the plumbing was in the bilge under the floor under the bed.  This also meant that the plumbing was hard to check visually and even harder to maintain and the neglect showed.  It took about 1 1/2 days but in the end I feel much more secure that the plumbing below the water line is less likely to fail and the common failure parts are now above the floor so they are easier to maintain.

Standing on the floor under the bed looking down into the bilge access  prior to starting the re-plumbing.

Under the Owner's Berth after re-plumbing - notice that the sea strainer and hoses are now above the floor
Finally - we still take time to enjoy living on the water.  Jarvis and I took a walk around Smith Island and I took this photo.

Snohomish River from Smith Island Trail

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

And the dream gets MUCH closer!

Addendum 2/24/17 - Here is the REALLY BIG NEWS - today we met one more time with our retirement advisor and confirmed what she had told us tentatively several weeks ago which is that we can afford to retire early!!!!

Our current plan is to leave soon after out daughter and her family join us for their summer visit in July.  We are expecting to head north and end up in SE Alaska for the winter (likely in Sitka or Petersburg).

We are VERY excited but were keeping a bit of a low key until we had our meeting today.


Addendum 2/16/17 - Hi to Kansas State University HAM Station W0QQQ who were able to talk clearly with us from Manhattan Kansas while we were out testing the new HF radio modem.

Folks sometimes ask what Norman was like as a child when they hear about his crazy interest in tearing things apart and putting them back together. Perhaps an exchange with our daughter concerning our 8 y/o grandson who seems to have the "Norman Gene" will give a bit of a picture:
TEXT MESSAGE from daughter: H definitely your grandson, I am letting him replace a light switch tonight and he's super excited. We are discussing the history of aluminum v copper wiring on the way to gym.

Henri fixes his sister's light switch.
TEXT MESSAGE from daughter: Success all by himself.

TEXT MESSAGE from daughter: V [H's little sister] is super excited to have a not-broken switch and H is making plans to change every switch in the house.

The story is told that at 12 years old I flew back to visit my Aunt Daisy, the closest person I had to a living grandparent by that age.  To keep me entertained she put me to work wiring some lights and outlets in the basement of her very old house and then paid me for the work (as I recall it was during that job that I learned to quickly whip my hand past the wire to see if it was still hot as the fuses were poorly marked - I have since found much less painful and safer methods).  Anyway, my dad (who was trained as a commercial electrician but worked for a major airline) immediately flew back when he heard about his sister's house being wired by a child.  Turns out that he approved of all of the work I had done as being done as safely as possible when adding on to existing wiring. So I'm very excited about H getting some observed training before he starts rewiring the house (or my boat!!) without asking first.

I write this blog to a great extent because I enjoy writing.  It also serves as a way to keep in touch with friends and family as well as being a narrative ships log of sorts. It is fun/interesting to me to watch the statistics and get email's from folks who have a comment or question. One of the interesting statistics is that much of my "audience" is from Russia - hmmmm.  I'm not sure they buy many Nordhavns there so I have to assume (unless someone from that part of the world sets me straight with an email!) that perhaps the bots are watching!  Anyway - again we do love to hear from folks with pleasant comments and questions SalishAire ampersand gmail.com .

Monday, February 13, 2017

Early February update

We have decided its time to finish our ToDo list so that we are ready to sail away when the opportunity arises (which according to our retirement adviser may be sooner than we had planned!)

Shiny new water pump behind the Lugger belt guard.

One of the items on our list was to get a spare water pump for the main Lugger/John Deere engine. The basic engine was manufactured as a tractor engine by John Deere in Wisconsin and then marinized by Lugger in Seattle for use in the maritime industry. Previously when I had looked into getting a spare I was shocked at the price of about $1000 from the local Lugger/John Deere parts place.  I was also told that the water pumps were designed to be rebuilt if you could find a casting in good shape. In trying to be as frugal as possible I discovered that by entering the part number from my Lugger manual into Google that a brand of aftermarket pumps popped up as available. I took the photo of one to the engine room and used a flashlight to look behind the belt guard which fits over the outside of the water pump to see if it was a match. To my chagrin what I did see were signs of coolant leakage. Initially I assumed I had a leaking hose but it turned out to be the main seal on the water pump. I was no longer taking my time looking for a spare pump but rather a replacement pump that I could hopefully install before the next weekend Clarice and I had off together with the plan of taking a short trip on the boat. It turns out that removing the pump that weighs about 60 lb requires taking a whole lot of the front of the engine apart to get to it before the new part (which we didn't have yet) could be installed.  To make a long story short, I found out that I could get industrial John Deere parts from the local John Deere tractor outlet if I had the specific part number (rather than the engine model number).  They ordered up the part with their normal order from Portland along with the parts I needed to rebuild the old pump and we were able to get the engine up and running in time for the weekend outing with a new pump on it. I was then able to use Clarice's dad's press to rebuild the old pump for a spare the next week.

Chain before re-galvanizing

We've also been grumbling about the mess our rusty chain makes on the deck every time we pull it up. Our options were to replace 400 ft of 3/8 chain or re-galvanize it.  We did some research and learned that chain from all over the USA is sent to a little place in Seattle that re-galvanizes for about 1/3 the cost of new.  We loaded all 600 lbs of chain in the back of the Prius and headed to Seattle with it. About 11 days later it came back to us looking just like new and I didn't have to go to confession about sending the metal to the waste bin.

Re-galvanized chain

My latest challenge is integrating a newly purchased SCS brand Pactor 4 modem with our high frequency (HF) (AKA Single Side Band Marine / Ham) radio.  It was a rather expensive device at $1300 but it should enable us to download weather charts much more easily AND send email while we are out of internet / cell phone range.  As of yesterday evening I was convinced that I have it connected to the radio correctly now I just need to get it and the computer working in sync. One frustration with trying to learn the ins and outs of the HF radio (on top of the expectation that you understand radio / electronics so documentation is minimal) is that they don't work well in a marina environment.  It seems that every refrigerator and fan motor in the marina puts out radio frequency noise in the frequency range you are trying to receive / transmit and then the sail boat masts reflect the signals too and fro. We are always surprised when we turn on the radio away from the marina and hear the difference.

Even "small" projects seem to always involve a big mess and some remodeling.
 As part of the installation process I moved the control panel for the radio down where it was easier to see and put the modem in its old spot.  I still need to finish a wood covering to make it look better. (We are now recognizing that it is time to re-build most of the dash panels after 20 years of upgrades and remodels - another project for another day.)

We spent last weekend at our son's house in Portland, Oregon.  I only mention it as we went down to help him install a new instant hot water heater and it turned out to be fun for me as I got to practice some plumbing, sheet-rock work, and electrical skills while someone else paid for the parts! I really do enjoy working with my hands, especially when I don't have to contort into a strange position in the engine room to do so.