• Boat Life,  News,  Pictures,  River Queen

    Hard Decisions

    We have received a fair amount of questioning from friends and family about what our plans are. I knew that at some point a decision about our future would need to be made but I kind of shoved it out of my mind for a couple of weeks. However, every day The Boy needs a bit more space, A is a touch plumper (in the good pregnancy way) and I’m still, well … fleshy. So, it has become rather obvious to me that one of the requirements that we need to fill is: – we need more room.

    Initially, in a fit of spittle spraying panic, I strongly suggested that we had to start looking for a furnished apartment. Of course, the panic was a result of my putting the problem out of my mind for two weeks, and then feeling the pressure of it. A. gamely played along, but I suspect that even then she knew what the plan was. The next day, she called me at work and suggested that she had an idea that she wanted to present but NOT have me shoot down without hearing it. (That’s what she has to do when I get all lathered up about something.)

    When I got home she sat me down and said that not only did she NOT want to move into an apartment but that she still wanted to stay on the water. How cool is that? She then proceeded to show me a series of houseboats on Yachtworld. At first, I was thinking – “oh no, not a stinkpot” (thats what sailors call powerboaters – while we sailors are called blowhards) but A. presented the logic to me.

    • We are not going to sail around the world in the next few years, not at least until the kids are 4 or 5 yrs old.
    • Sailing the 10 or so times a season does not justify us living in such a cramped space even if this is a great bluewater boat.
    • Even though I love sailing – the sails up, sun shining, the water whispering past the hull – my family needs more room.

    So, we are officially on the hunt for a houseboat. This past weekend we went to look at a couple of 40′ foot steel houseboats – River Queens. They are houseboats with a hull as opposed to pontoons – twin engine … but no sails. Oh well … dream postponed, not dream over.

  • Atomic 4

    Atomic 4 Problems…

    Wow – 2 posts in one day – that must be a record or something.

    One of my jobs this weekend was to get my Atomic Bomb (Atomic 4 Gasoline Marine Engine) running properly. When we moved the boat from our winter slip over to our summer slip, I noticed that I could not get the engine over about 1200 rpm. It should hit 4000 easily. Of course, I left that problem until I really needed the engine – like this weekend when we wanted to go sailing. Here is what I found.

    The engine idled well – or I should say it seemed to idle well. But when I put the boat into gear and revved her up, the engine would begin to bog down and would not go above 1200 rpm. So…

    I made a couple of assumptions: I doubted that the prop was fouled as we have not been out anywhere where it could have picked something up. I also assumed the gasoline was OK as it would run in a seemingly normal fashion at idle – certainly not rough anyway. So I decided to check to see if it was my electrical/ignition system. With the engine running I removed each spark plug wire one by one and determined that this here A Bomb was only running on 2 cylinders. Removing wires 1 and 4 made no difference to how the engine was running but removing 2 or 3 would almost stall the engine. So now I had narrowed it down to 1 and 4 – but what was actually happening with them?

    Next I pulled the wire off of 4 and positioned it close to the engine block and turned the engine over. The spark jumped strong and hard from the wire end to the engine block. I did the same thing with wire number 1 with the same result – there was good strong spark.

    So, now I knew that at least the ignition system was good to the plug – the final thing to check was the plugs themselves. What I did was pull out plug number 4 and connect it to the wire – then placed it on the block so that the plug body was grounded and then turned the engine over – ah ha – no spark. Tried the same with number 1 and again no spark. So what we have is spark coming to the plug but no spark at the plug.

    Fred Hawood, the original owner was kind enough to leave a set of used plugs in my engine bin. They were nicely wrapped in a baggie and tagged ‘Used 1998.’ So I eagerly ripped into the bag and replaced plugs 1 and 4 with these ‘used’ plugs and …. tada – we have a full power engine again. This Bomb had 2 bad spark plugs! I can only guess that the insides must have corroded over the winter – but that is just a guess.

    Does anyone know how spark plugs fail? I don’t mean burn up, I mean fail – not spark anymore. They appear to be fine – not cracked – no carbon trails, just not firing. Anywho, if the weather holds out, we are off sailing tomorrow.

    I hope you enjoyed this another episode of Marine Engine fun – by far the biggest headache I have with this boat: my Atomic Bomb.

  • Dock Life,  Opinions

    Long Weekends at the Marina

    We normally try to get out of town for long weekends, but for this one (Canada Day) we decided to hang around and get some things done at home.

    The weekenders are all here!

    I just got back from the Marina showers – what a strange mix…

    Old, young, skinny, fat, short, tall – all in various stages of undress – bumping into each other, laughing uncomfortably … all this to the cacophony of toots and hoots coming from the 8 toilet stalls. Blech!!

    Next long weekend – it’s out of town for us!

  • Uncategorized

    Sunset at the new Slip

    We moved to our summer slip this afternoon. It’s good to be finally moved over here. It will be darker at night as we are away from the building plus we should have less bird poo everywhere for the same reason.

    Tonight there was a beautiful sunset. We did not get to see much of it though because The Boy was blocking the view. Nice posterior…

  • Uncategorized

    Thanks for the Thanks

    Many thanks to all those of you who put in your 2 cents about our ‘crossroads’ issue. We are a little further along the path of deciding… but are not yet ready to reveal what our plans are. For now – it’s summertime and I live on a boat!!!

    The mast is finally back up (I had taken it down for the winter to do some repairs) and everything is working the way it should. I’ve put on the boom and the mainsail – but still have to pick up the jib from the sail repair shop where it spent the winter. We plan to be sailing this weekend.

    We have not yet moved to our summer slip which is a little further out from the main building, but plan to move at the latest this weekend. More likely Thursday.

    Stay tuned for a review of the The 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

  • Uncategorized

    Baby Swans

    Our local Ma and Pa swan now have 7 little swans (signets? I have been corrected – cygnets) to take care of.

    The boy loves feeding them – plus it is a way to get rid of our old mouldy bread. The swans seem to love it.

    “Please sir, may I have some more?”

  • Uncategorized

    To Answer A Couple of Questions…

    OK – to answer a couple of questions first…

    No, the boat did not sink…
    I wish we were out on the lake sailing…
    My not writing anything for a while does not mean that I do not like you…(get some self-esteem buddy!)

    I think those were the main ones.

    Life on board the S/V Strathgowan is good. We have finally shed our winter shell and have got most everything ready for summer. All that is left is for the mast to go up and some small odds and ends. To make excuse for why I’ve not written, I have to refer you to my wife’s blog ScrapScene. (I’ll explain more on that in a minute.) I’ve been writing, stumbling, SEO’ing, etc. – all the things that one must do to get a blog up and running. All this takes time and kind of sucks my writing well dry. But, I’m back! – for now…

    We have decided to stay at our winter marina for the summer this year. In the past we’ve moved between two marinas for the summer and winter. However, everything is just closer to the marina where we winter. The grocery store is just across the road, the mail box is a 5 min walk and there are lots of little restaurants within shouting distance. Never thought that I would want to move closer to the action, but here we are. We will move to a different dock which is further out away from the building which should give us some summer breezes and get us away from the bustle of the marina itself. However, the dock is not yet open due to repairs that are still taking place from the wind storm this past Feb. It really did a number on the docks here and the repairs have been going on for several weeks now.

    I still have to pick up my jib from the sail repair shop where it spent the winter getting a couple of seams repaired. I really should learn how to do these types of repairs myself – but then I would not be able to store my sails at the repair shop. It will be nice to finally get the boat out on the lake and sailing again – hopefully this coming week.

    OK – on to other news.

    My wife (A) is pregnant again. She’s due in the fall and that means that means we’ve got about 5 months to figure out what we are going to do regarding our living arrangements. Is an Alberg 30 big enough for 4 people? Ha – some would say that it is not big enough for 2! I don’t mind living in a small boat (which is kind of weird, ’cause I’m a big guy) but A is not too enthralled with the idea of adding another person to our already cramped space. So, what to do…?

    We are heading toward a major crossroads in our lives. This fall we will have the opportunity (or necessity) to go in any of several directions. Here are the options that we are considering:

    • Status Quo – stay where we are on the Alberg 30. Just make it work.
    • Buy a bigger boat to live on.
    • Move on land – i.e. buy another house, rent an apartment, etc. (actually, we are not really considering this, but it is an option.)
    • Move to another part of the country – buy a house, rent an apartment, find another job and generally rejoin the ‘normal’ life.
    • Move all our stuff off the boat, pack up our Boler camping trailer and head out on the road – visiting my family in Manitoba for a while then heading south for the rest of the winter. (My personal favorite.)

    There is a common thread throughout this list of options – that is: money. How does one finance: a new boat – a new house – a move – or a mobile lifestyle?

    Enter ScrapScene.

    If, (and it is a big if) we could generate an income from ScrapScene – an income that is large enough to support any of the above options, then our decision becomes one of choice. Because ScrapScene is a web-based blog we could conceivably operate it anywhere that we have access to the internet. That would enable us to live a Mobile Life – as long as we could tap into the Internet at regular intervals. When, at any time in the past, was this an option for a young family? Especially a family that is not supported by a trust-fund or old money. Never. The old terrestrial model of work and life is changing. There are options to those who want to reach out and take them.

    While A. and I have been developing our designed life for well over a year now, a book came out recently that really put down in black and white a prescription that shows what A. and I have been working on. The book is called The 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It is a wonderfully inspiring read and really shows how a mobile life and a life free of a ‘job’ is more possible than ever in this day of technological advancement. I will write more about Tim’s book in another post.

    But for now – that is where we are at. Working hard on hardly working. Ok friends and family … what are your thoughts, ideas or comments on this? Let us have it!!

  • Uncategorized

    Swimming, Mortality & Writing Well!?! (Huh?)

    The recent post on my late night swimming episode generated a surprisingly large amount of discussion and comment. We were even contacted by a journalist who wanted to do an article on our unique life style here on the boat (we turned it down for reasons that I will expand on in another post.) What is surprising about the emails and comments is that there are at least as many about how I wrote as about what I wrote. (Hmmm – Mr. Hildebrand, my high school English teacher would be happy to know that I finally seem to be getting it. I’m not sure where IT came from – I certainly wasn’t getting IT in his class and have the marks to prove it. A current grade 10 teacher gave me an A+ for the post. Thanks Mrs. Muth – I don’t never have got a A in Engleesh before.)

    See the quote in the post Crossing the Atlantic on an Alberg. The description of being out in the middle of the Atlantic surrounded by nothing along with the interaction of the waves, sky and light is awesome. That paragraph is so well crafted that it actually evokes feelings in your heart and pictures in your mind. Now, that’s what I’m talking about.

    The topic of writing well was blogged about a couple of weeks ago by our Blog Consultant, Alister Cameron. (We hired a Blogologist to help us with A.’s website Scrapscene.com that we are trying to develop into an income source.) Quoting from his post, he says,

    “Dear fellow blogger, I beg you not to underestimate the importance of good written expression. I personally do not think good blog writing is the same as good journalistic writing (although granted, it can vary from blog to blog). I rather see skilled blog writing as a kind of middle road between uncomplicated stream-of-consciousness, conversational-style writing on the one hand, and the more evolved, colourful and even poetic style of a magazine feature writer, on the other.”

    Please take the time to read the complete article and visit his site. He is a great guy and has been a real asset to A. and I as we develop our on-line presence.

    We all enjoy a good story, but a good story that is well written – that is a cake with icing. (Mmmmm, cake.) The web and blogging in particular have in many ways done a disservice to the art of writing well. The ease of being able to just fire out any sort of sniveling drivel and seeing it in black and white on the web has promoted a culture of lazy writers. Of course, kids today don’t learn how to write right, not like when we was in school. (Every generation seems to say this – logically speaking, eventually humanity will lose the ability to write completely.)

    So what does this all mean? I guess I am saying I want my cake with icing, thank you very much. If you take the time to write something, you might as well write it well.

    Ok – back to living on a boat…