• Marina,  News,  Opinions

    Something Fishy.

    Just a quick note to thank those who have sent me emails and comments about our problems getting our boat ready for launch. I have chosen to not publish some of the comments as some are quite – shall we say – ‘expressive.’ I would however love to continue to hear about your experiences with not only this marina but others anywhere. It would seem that there might be some common themes that, if known ahead of time, could be recognized and avoided if possible.

  • Marina,  River Queen

    Houseboat Update

    The whole houseboat move thing hit another snag today. Our marina here will not allow me to bring the boat into the yard to finish the work. In fact, I’m not sure if he is even going to let us bring it into the Marina even after the last of the upgrade work is done. It seems that the management here knows better than both the surveyor and our insurance company as to what is a safe boat and what is not. His exact words were “under no circumstances will I allow that boat into my Marina.” Now he did not specify whether that included after all the work is done or not, but he did not say that either. I’m kinda depressed about this whole thing now – and not exactly sure how to deal with it.

    I’ve hired a local marine electrical professional to go up to where the boat is tomorrow and together we will hopefully correct any and all defects that he finds. There really is not much, so hopefully we can get it done in a day. He will also advise me on the propane system and supply the parts needed for upgrades. I will install them and then get one of my appliance repair colleagues to pressure test the propane system and sign off on it.

    Then, I will get my surveyor back up there to reinspect the boat and provide me with a clean survey.

    With that I can get full in-water insurance for the boat and reapply to the marina here.

    If, at that point, the management here is still a no-go, then we will move to another marina. We don’t want to, our lives are here and this is where we want to live, but there is literally nothing that I can do if they won’t let me stay here. The funny thing is, there are boats all around me here that are in far worse shape and with many more defects than mine, yet they can get a slip. Strange.

  • Books

    Island of the Lost – Review

    This is a quick book review of Island of the Lost – Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett.

    Set in the 1860’s, Island of the Lost tells the incredible story of the schooner Graphton with it’s Captain Thomas Musgrave and crew of four who wreck on Auckland Island approx. 285 miles south of New Zealand.

    At the same time during a raging storm a second ship, Invercauld, wrecks at the other end of the island (about 20 miles away from the first wreck); 19 crew members including Captain George Dalgarno survive.

    Both groups found themselves stranded on the same isolated and uninhabited island, both having to endure the same poor weather conditions, the same lack of food with many of the same resources. Yet, the tale of the two groups could not be more different.

    The crew from the Graphton under the leadership of Captain Musgrave, and with the ingenutity of the crew build a proper shelter both strong and warm enough to survive a south sea winter. They forage and hunt food enough to keep themselves alive and once they came to the realization that nobody was coming to save them, built themselves a new boat on the frame of their old dingy and sailed to safety. In the process, they build a forge, manufacturing their own charcoal and tools and even set up regular schooling in the evenings to teach each other their native languages and for two of the crew, how to read and write. This crew demonstrates the perfect example of group survival and is a testament to the basic human desire to survive and thrive. Twenty months after wrecking – almost 2 years – the complete crew of the Graphton stood together safely on the shores of New Zealand in the port town of Invercargill.

    The fate of the crew of the Invercauld was far different. Captain Dalgarno, failing to demonstrate any leadership skills, goes into a listless stupor and allows his men to fall upon one another in fights, divide into two groups and finally descend into cannibalism. The first mate orders the men around only to further his own chances of survival. The gross apathy and selfishness of the mate and captain is shown time and time again from laying down and refusing to move to ordering the cabin boys to fetch water and food until they too, succumbing to cold and hunger, die. Of the crew of 19 that survived the original wreck, only three lived long enough to be rescued almost exactly a year after going aground.

    This book is a based on historical records and several survivors’ journals. It appears to be well researched with an excellent “Author’s Note” where author Joan Druett explains the various intricacies of historical research and the special problems associated with this particular historical study.

    This is a wonderful story, well told, and deserves to be on the shelf of every sailor or armchair sailor. It is an ideal book for those long cold winter evenings when the boat is up on the hard, the cold wind is whistling through the eves and the memories of warm summer days have faded. Indeed a well founded tale is welcome anytime and this book would be a welcome diversion any season.

    See Amazon here for more reviews and to order a copy.

  • News,  River Queen

    Houseboat Update

    Terribly sorry for the lack of updates re: the new (old) houseboat.

    We are currently on holidays – visiting my parents in Manitoba, and so I’ve kind of put everything on hold while we unwind for a week. We’ve been fishing several times – caught 1 big old Crappie in Mary Jane Reservoir and a Winnipeg GoldenEye in the Pembina River. I know – not much in the way of fish – but much of the fun of fishing is the just go’n fishn’ part. We also spent a night at my parents cabin – no electricity or running water – almost like being on the boat!

    About the new houseboat – things are going a bit slowly. We’ve had a survey done which showed up a couple of things that we need to get done. The bottom needs to be redone as there is a fair amount of corrosion from improperly applied anti-fouling paint. When you apply a copper based anti-fouling paint to a steel boat, you must put some sort of barrier coat between the two so that you don’t get any electrolysis or electrolytic action happening. This was not done when the anti-fouling was applied by the previous owner. So we have to sandblast the bottom – apply about 10 mils of epoxy to provide a barrier and then the anti-fouling. This is not a real hard job and is really just a logistical pain in the butt – it is supposed to be done tomorrow (Friday). We will see – it has been delayed a couple of times.

    We also need to fix some wiring issues – some of the wires were not soldered properly and twisted wire covered in electrical tape is a no-no on a boat. I will hire out this work and get everything cleaned up.

    And finally, the propane system is not up to todays standards. It is just basically a tank with a hose going to the stove. What I need to do is install a regulator, new gas line, a gas sniffer in the bilge, an electronic shutoff and the tanks must be installed in a sealed box with an overflow that goes overboard. Whew – sounds like a lot of work, but in reality is again just logistics. I will likely do most of this work myself and then get it inspected and signed off on by one of the gas tech’s from my work.

    So, we are still at least a couple of weeks away from getting the boat down to Toronto – but things are looking up. I would say by September, we should have a brand new (old) houseboat to live in.

  • Dock Life,  Opinions,  Questions

    What is Wrong with People – Ungulates.

    At various times in life most normal people have to ask themselves, usually while shaking their head, “What is wrong with people?” This is the question that I currently find my self mumbling under my breath. (If you’ve never asked yourself this, you just might be part the subject upon which we are about to embark.)

    You see, it is 12:30am – that’s middle of the night here – and the people in the boat across the dock from us are carrying on as if they were the only people within 100 miles. I assume, as they have been drinking since I first saw them this morning at about 10:15am, that they are now good and drunk. There are various loud male voices punctuated by fits of drunken female laughter – none restrained, none moderated. The first thing we had to do this evening as we got ready to go to bed, was close all the hatches and doors to somewhat muffle the carrying on. In the time it took for me to get the front hatch closed I was privy to the most degrading and disgusting conversation that was taking place over which all were laughing uncontrollably. Decorum and common decency being sadly wanted by these pitiful excuses for humans, and the self centered nature of their actions, lead me to believe that they were either brought up by farm animals or like the prodigal have descended to the level of the pigs who’s filth they seem to revel in.

    In the past, I would have gone out, begging their forgiveness for my family’s bodily weakness in requiring sleep and to gently remind the farm animals that we, here in the civilized world, would very much like to retire in peace for the evening and would be much obliged if they would keep their grunting and snuffling to a minimum. My wife has denied me the joy of turning the hose on the floating pen as one member of the drunken troop is being rounded up tomorrow and shipped off to parts east of here – an occasion for which we too, by rights, should party and carouse all night long.

    So, we wait, hoping beyond hope for the sweet sounds of silence that should result in a few unbroken hours of sleep till the morrow when those of us who have some purpose in life and who attempt to be productive members of society rise to go off to our places of employment (and try not to stumble over the dozens of crushed beer cans that the menagerie will have surely left behind.)

    In my research for this very liberating post, I discovered that ungulates are known to eat their own young and often feed on their own excrement. I also found that pigs don’t sweat. And so, on that positive note, I shall end this post and go back to trying to tune out the nocturnal sounds of the swineherd 5 feet away from my bedroom window.

  • 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…