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.

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.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas 2016

December 2016 has been a pretty busy month as we prepared for Christmas including the arrival of our daughter and her family along with church choir practices and the "usual" other stuff with family and friends.

This is the first year we have had a real tree on the boat.  This was nice for me as Clarice banned real trees from our home several years ago when it became apparent that tree + Norman's allergies = annual sinus infection.  The 3 ft tall noble fir fit nicely on our cockpit table and provided just enough scent as I walked by to make it enjoyable but not so much that my allergies were triggered.  We were very basic with our outside decorations with a star on the top of the mast and lights trailing down from it with icicle lights around the top deck.  Even though it was very basic it really stood out visually from the cliff above the waterfront and was very visible from the hospital where Norman works so he could show folks where he lives from the windows. Clarice decorated the inside of the boat, as she has in past years, with a garland decorated with ornaments we have collected over the years which have special memories attached to them (including the partridge in a pear tree Hallmark ornament from our first Christmas 40 years ago).

Our "basis" outside decorations turned out to be very visible from the hillside above the waterfront.

The garland around the salon.  The  ornament from our first Christmas is on the far left.

Our credit card company was very happy with us this year as I decided to purchase a very expensive stabilized binocular just prior to an unexpected expense with our salon heat pump.  We use the heat pump (referred to as A/C by warm water boaters who are often unaware that you can make it work as a heating furnace) as our primary means of heating the boat when we are at the dock as it is very economical and works well (with the diesel hydronic furnace as our other option).  The unit had gotten noisier over time and was driving Clarice nuts while Norman was fine as long as his hearing aids were out.  Finally the high pitched noise got bad enough that both decided that action needed to be taken. Step one was to isolate the noise using the old screwdriver to temple stethoscope trick.  The bad news was the noise was clearly from the compressor.  We then held a cell phone up to the compressor so a friend in the refrigeration business could listen to it.  His evaluation was that the compressor would die sometime within the next hour to 5 years but that it was definitely not sounding healthy.  Long story short (and about 3 "boat units" later) we ended up replacing the whole unit and upgrading the ducting when we realized that the original compressor had a manufacture date of 1996 when the boat was built.   Now we only have one original unit left and we are hoping that with the parts we scrounged  we can keep it going.

 Grandson H tests out the new stabilized binoculars.

Our shiny new heat pump / air conditioning unit under the salon seat.

Christmas Day was very slow at work so I took time to read the old blogs from when Salish Aire was Duet ( http://mvduet.homestead.com/index.html ) .  It was fun to look at the old photos and see the changes that had been made over the years.  I was also able to get some clarity as to when repairs and upgrades had been done the last time. When Salish Aire was known as Duet she was owned and lovingly cared for by the Goldbergs whom we are still in contact with. Ron Goldberg loved to add expensive toys to his boat and we are the happy recipients of many of his choices which tended to be very high quality and are still enhancing the boat today. The Duet blog also mentioned the name of the original owner several times and indicated that they lived in Florida.  With the help of Google I managed to find an email address and sent off a note asking if I had the right person. Mrs. Lynn phoned me later in the day very excited to hear about "her favorite boat".  It turns out that Rapture (Salish Aire's first name) was purchased at a the Newport Boat Show when they walked on board and fell in love with her. Mrs. Lynn also talked about how she remembered Ron Goldberg "jumping up and down he was so excited when he took ownership of her". The Goldberg's have also told us about their many fond memories of Duet (they now are in Mexico on their Nordhavn 50 also known as Duet http://www.mvduet.com/ ).  Clearly she is a very special boat that has an effect on everyone who travels on her.

We realized that we have some interior photos of Salish Aire but not a lot on this blog.  Norman decided to try his hand at making a video and came up with this: December 2016 video tour of Salish Aire.

 And finally the photos of our daughter's family enjoying Christmas with us.

C takes the wheel as we head out the river (yes, he really is steering the boat).

A short walk from the boat is a submarine factory. The owner was very accommodating with the only request that we not touch the view port as it had taken 300 hours to polish

A new Christmas Dragon "Stuffy" (AKA stuffed animal) keeps C safe in his sleep.

The kids check out the scenery before watching the Pacific Northwest Ballet version of the Nutcracker.

A visit to a local camp's lights of Christmas was a big hit.

V enjoyed her pony ride at the Lights of Christmas.

H shares his puzzle book with his Great Grandmother at the Gregory family Christmas gathering.

Finally; Santa did make it down Salish Aire's stack to fill the stockings on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Winter 2016-17 arrives

Today we had the first real blast of cold weather in the Puget Sound lowlands.  The weather folks have been predicting a cold winter for us and the mountain ski areas have been open since Thanksgiving weekend (the definition of an "early start" around here).

A little weather wisdom for this area: Our typical snow pattern is a cold high develops at the end of a typically rainy pattern leading to snow followed by clear and cold weather. Or a water filled low comes as the cold high leaves the area giving us snow followed by rain. We expected snow at the beginning of this cold snap but it didn't arrive in time for the high to develop so instead today was a clear day (after a morning of freezing frost) and snow is expected later in the week with a quick turn to rain. (The only time we get a longer period of snow is when the Canadians leave some water in the wind that the high brings down from the north but usually they dry it out first.)

View from the Portuguese bridge (we have fresh river water on top of the salt water so we do see skim ice at times)

Looking across the marina before the fog lifted

The white is from the freezing fog. Mt Baker in the distance after the fog lifted.

We drove up to Snoqualamie Pass where there was real snow.

Jarvis frolicked in the snow but seem a bit confounded about where he could sit and not get a cold tush.

Road to Alpental ski area.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

2 plus years of living aboard and counting

We've lost count how many times we have been asked if we are glad we moved aboard a boat - the answer is a clear, YES!

Remembering that we moved aboard in June 2014 we now (October 2016) have almost 2 1/2 years under our belts. So at this point here are answers to the common questions we hear:

  • Do you miss not having a house and yard?
    • Clarice expected she might miss her yard and garden.  During our 40 years together we have gone from 5 acres with a very large vegetable garden and a private forest to a "small" yard with a couple of terraced gardens in town at our last house.  She even started an herb garden when we moved on the boat just in case she needed to weed something and feel some dirt under her nails.  She is now down to a mason jar with some sprouts in it and is happy as a clam.  
    • I miss having a hot tub. I have some neurological damage to my lower spine that results in aching legs and the only thing that seems to really calm them is hot water.  Our answer is to seek out a marina or hotel with a hot tub when I need a break and the boat (or marina) shower is not cutting it.
    • We do NOT miss having a lot of room to live in except on rare occasion when I get a bit of cabin fever (but that happened in the house as well - its just part of my nature to not be a sit still person).  
  • Does the boat rock a lot?
    • No - we are moored fairly far back in a well protected marina.  We also have a full keel and weigh 60,000 lbs so we will notice the wind moving our neighbor's boat long before we move much at all.  In reality we enjoy the sound of rain on the hatch over our sleeping berth as well as the movement when it does occur and sleep well.
  • Are you afraid of storms?
    • We feel safer in the boat than in a house with a tree next to it or a river that might flood. The strongest wind we have weathered in the marina was 60 knots last winter.  The noise of the wind through the rigging of other boats was LOUD and I felt obligated to wear a life preserver when walking on the dock in case I got blown off balance.  We worried about other boats but ours felt quite secure.
  • What adaptations did you have to make?
    • Rule #1 (#2, and #3) - any purchases must be CAREFULLY evaluated for space considerations. Buy ice cream - it better be a small container that will fit in an open space in the freezer.  Buy a new shirt - which old shirt is going off the boat. Furniture is for window shopping only. Kitchen gadgets better have MANY uses. Tools must be multi-functional and have a planned storage space. Etc. , etc..
  • Don't you get tired of being in such close proximity to each other all of the time?
    • Clarice and I are pretty blessed with really liking each other.  We have never really had a problem being together for long periods. 
  • What do you do for exercise?
    • We live next in a marina and park area where other people come to walk.  We have to walk 1/2 block to take out the garbage or take the dog for a walk.  Our mailbox is about 1/4 mile away.  In a real sense we have more opportunity for exercise living where we do.  Even I have found that "boat yoga" (AKA working in challenging locations in the engine room) has improved my flexibility a bit.
  • Where to you get mail?
    • A local marine hardware has rental mail boxes.
  • What about overall costs?
    • The answer needs to be qualified a bit.  We are paying our mortgage ahead as fast as we comfortably can so that we will hopefully own the boat outright in about 1 1/2 years.  We also put a lot of money into upgrades and repairs as we want to feel that she is fully blue water ready in another 1 1/2 years. Our moorage in a very nice marina (including all utilities and parking for the car) comes to about $800 / month. Insurance on the boat is not a huge amount more than homeowners insurance was for the house.  All in all we are probably spending about the same or a bit more than we did when we lived in the house (and seemed to always be remodeling a rental or some other project).
  • What about fuel costs?
    • Filling the tanks if they were all empty would amount to a fair hunk of change as we can carry 1000 US gallons.  In reality our fuel costs are very low.  We recently got our 2500 nm pennant which means that in almost 2 1/2 years we have not even used a single fuel load (about 3000 nm worth).  We tend to get down about 250 gallons and then fill a single tank when we see fuel at a good price. (When we were considering buying the boat we planned on $4 / gallon - the price has been consistently much lower since we made the purchase with our most recent purchase being about $2 / gallon.)
  • Does Jarvis still seem happy?
    • Jarvis seems to have fully adapted to boat life.  He considers the whole marina park to be his private territory (which needs to be well marked daily - roll eyes).  He also has a lot of admirers that know him and he knows he can get a petting session from if he greets them when they pass.  It is interesting to us that he clearly recognizes our marina and gets very excited as we come up the river when we have been out for a while..
  • Where do you plan to go on you retire?
    • We hope to retire in 2018 and will likely head north.  We have fond memories of doing the inside passage in our 26 ft sailboat but could only take a month and were always concerned about fuel consumption and where we could get the next fill.  We plan to go and take time investigating many little coves and villages.  We wont be surprised if we over winter in SE Alaska and then take another year to do Prince William Sound.  At some point we will get to warm water but the remoteness of northern latitudes has great appeal to us and Salish Aire is able to take us there in comfort.
  • How long can you go before you have to empty your holding tanks?
    • We have about 50 gallons of capacity divided between two tanks.  We usually plan on pumping the tanks about every 5 days. We carry about 250 gallons of fresh water and have a water maker so fresh water capacity is never an issue.
  • So final question: Why do you like living on a boat?
    • We find it a comfortable and cozy tiny house.  When we lay down to sleep at night it feels like we are in our comfortable little cave (why do people want 400 sq ft master bedrooms?????) and Jarvis snuggles into his kennel at the foot of the bed and all is well.  It gives us the ability to go out boating with about 15 minutes of preparation time.  We have a pleasant neighborhood and know more of our neighbors here than we did after 10 years in our house.  We always were jealous of people with a waterfront view who could look out and see the water and boats and the surrounding mountains - now we live in a gated community and are part of their multi-million dollar view.  In summary it is a home that meets our needs and interests that we are comfortable in and very proud to show off.